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There had been rumblings that Waioli Tea Room in Manoa would be closing for good. The news came as a shock to the local community, since Waioli had not only been a place to get tea and scones but also a place of historic significance for the island.
Thankfully, those rumors were not completely accurate. While the previous owner did announce he would not be renewing his lease after a decade of business, Salvation Army had been the ones to step in and save the day, so to speak. They already owned the tea room; however, now they will also be managing it, so it will be interesting to see how much the menu changes.
Most customers go to Waioli for high tea, a concept that comes from the tea room’s initial purpose – to cater to British Columbia emigrants living in Hawaii back in the 1920s. Since then, it has been one of few high tea places on Oahu. Tourists enjoyed going here because it was a nice respite from the hustle of Waikiki, while the locals came here to celebrate special occasions (like Mother’s Day for my mom!).
In addition to high tea, Waioli houses a wealth of wonderful architecture. In fact, within the property, you’ll notice a replica of the grass guest house that novelist Robert Louis Stevenson stayed at in 1889. He had been visiting Princess Kaiulani and her father. The main one-story lava rock and shingle bungalow made its way onto the National Register of Historic Places listings in 1998.
Really impressive stuff, and yet, many still do not know Waioli Tea exists! Hopefully this article will help get the word out, so we can support this local (and very historic) business!
• 2950 Manoa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822 • 808-988-5800 • www.thewaiolitearoom.net