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Pau Hana Patrol: Nashville Waikiki conjures up rural vibe
Young people in cowboy hats and boots in Waikiki certainly look like fish out of water, and when you see that they’re inviting you into Nashville Waikiki, it’s easy to think, “That’s not my kind of place.”
Bar owners Sandy Miano and her daughter, Karen Huntimer, would beg to differ.
“You don’t have to be ‘country’ to like Nashville,” Miano said. “It’s a welcoming place. People come in and they just feel at home. We’ll have people come in for one thing or another and they just keep coming back, day after day, even year after year.”
“If you don’t like country, you will when you leave Nashville,” Huntimer said.
2330 Kuhio Ave. (basement of Ohana West Waikiki) 926-7911, nashvillewaikiki.com
Donna Wiggins is an excellent example of that. Three years ago she didn’t dance at all, much less to country music, but now you can find her teaching line-dancing, counting out its steps, spins and stomps for newbies and veterans alike.
“I never danced before I did line-dancing,” Wiggins said. “You can get into so many different rhythms and styles of music, although I’ve really come to enjoy the country music.”
The Mianos are familiar with running country bars in seemingly out-of-place locations. They ran one in Massachusetts, and when Sandy says “bar” you can hear a classic Boston “r.” But she loves country music and has visited the “real” Nashville because her brother lives there. She also took in country music in New Orleans with her son, former University of Hawaii Warriors assistant coach Rich Miano, when UH took on Georgia in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
LOCATED in the basement of the Ohana West Waikiki hotel, Nashville Waikiki opened in 1994. Old-timers might remember a Red Lion restaurant and a winery at the site, but neither had much success. But sometime during those years, a copper bar was installed there, which immediately caught Miano’s eye when she was looking for a place for a bar.
“We just looked at that atmosphere, that copper bar and brick, and we said ‘This is the place to do country,’ ” she said.
The copper bar might help keep the $3 to $5 happy hour drinks cold and whatever food you get warm. Nashville doesn’t serve food, but the Mianos also own the Cabana Pool Bar, on the second floor of the Ohana West. You can phone in your order from Nashville Waikiki and someone will bring it down for you.
It’s $8 for a turkey, roast beef or tuna sandwich — the sourdough bread made the roast beef sandwich especially nice — and for chicken wings, which had a nice spicy snap.
The owners also don’t mind if you bring in outside food. Miano said some “local ladies” who go there to enjoy the line-dancing have potlucks there.
The bar is also where one can be treated to good country wisdom, such as “If a man treats his wife like a thoroughbred, he’ll never be hitched to a nag,” or “Drink till she’s cute, but stop before the wedding,” — just a couple of the bumper sticker-style signs festooning the place.
It’s a bit disconcerting if you go into Nashville Waikiki too early. The dance floor is lined with big-screen TVs, almost as if it’s a sports bar, but in fact those screens are used for country music.
“It’s strictly country DVDs,” Huntimer said. Line-dancing lessons are held every evening except Fridays and Saturdays. There are darts, billiards, Wii and even a breathalyzer. Don’t expect to use it to prove anything in court, but it provides a lot of amusement, Huntimer said.
Ladies Night on Wednesdays is when the bar will help singles connect, and Military Appreciation Night on Thursdays welcomes armed forces personnel.
And just in case you do decide to “go country,” you can buy a straw cowboy hat for $10.
– Steven Mark / email@example.com