Auwe. It’s 10 p.m., you’ve just exited the movie theater, and you’re hungry for a late night snack. So where to go?
The abundance of wee-hour restaurants – some 24/7, others serving till midnight – is history.
In the old days, you could hele on to Pier 7 at the Ilikai. Or a neighborhood saimin stand.
Or a pancake house, like the one on Ala Moana Boulevard (whose name I can’t recall) across the Ilikai, if you were seeking a platter of flapjacks with sides of egg and Spam.
And yes, Kau Kau Korner at Kapiolani and Kalakaua, at the entrance of Waikiki, was a shrine of sorts and a symbol of a destination for ono kau kau. After work, after movie, after doing a show in Waikiki. It was also the home of Coco’s … until the Hard Rock Café settled in there. All gone now.
Other sites, like Wailana, at the corner of Ala Moana and Ena Road, served us well. It was a place where we all gathered, after the first round of going out, and finished the evening with local chow, frequently of singers and musicians we had seen earlier.
There was hope for a meal, too, if you slipped into a booth at Columbia Inn, before the midnight hour, where dinner, snack or breakfast options awaited. Maybe even at the counter-service at the Liliha Bakery, on Kuakini Street.
No can do. Not anymore. Nada.
Restaurants cut back schedules even before the pandemic, but the lockdown punctuated the disappearance of late-night dining. Maybe folks lost their thirst of night outings, and understandably, the hunger for late-night noshing, too.
Flash forward to the present times. You have to be in an eatery probably by 9:30 at the latest, to get table service. At M.A.C. 24/7 at the Hilton Waikiki Beach resort (the former Prince Kuhio Hotel) on Kuhio Avenue, business hours are 6 a.m. to midnight.
Both locations of the venerable Side Street Inn (Hopaka St., Kapahulu Ave.) have clipped hours, too, shutting down at 9 p.m.
Two former 24/7 brands also have abbreviated timetables: Anna Miller’s at Pearlridge and IHOP locations
The places that used to welcome night owls back in the day now close by 10 p.m.:
- Sorabol, on Keeaumoku Street.
- Zippy’s locations with dine-in options.
Conclusion: If you’re hungry late at night or in the wee hours, scout your fridge for leftovers or get the frying pan on the stove to whip out an omelet. Cup-a-Noodle just doesn’t cut it.
But the memories linger: where did you go for your night noshes back in the day?