Restaurant Row used to have all the right ingredients as a dining and entertainment mecca of Honolulu. During its glory days, the complex was a hot spot for young and old – thanks to a movie theatre, nightclubs and pau hana hangouts.
But it just couldn’t seem to compete with Ala Moana Shopping Center and other Waikiki businesses. Then when Aloha Tower opened up across the street, Restaurant Row lost even more of its potential customers. Those once-popular businesses shut down, including the theatre, which was first downgraded to a $1-movie complex for several years before closing for good.
It seemed to be the sad trend for all businesses at Restaurant (Death) Row, which was the unfortunate nickname it earned. The turnover for businesses capped off at about a year, if they were lucky – leaving yet another vacant hole in the Ala Moana Boulevard and Punchbowl Street complex.
But Restaurant Row keeps on trying. You gotta give them that at the very least. Right now, the M Nightclub seems to be doing very well as a party spot for the youngins, while Ruth’s Chris Steak House gets the award for longest-surviving business.
However, with the continued lack of foot traffic, things keep teetering between success and failure. I’d say give Restaurant Row a chance; there are still some really good places for happy hour or late-night drinks, and if anything else, go get a tasty steak from Ruth’s Chris.
RESTAURANT ROW • 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu, HI 96813 • Paid parking garage, metered street parking
Posted by: Bruce Fisher