Bar Tailored to Appeal to Women

By Erika Engle

Siblings Hiro Takei and Rie Takei Akita will open Odori-ko in early September, about 11⁄2 miles from the original Odoriko Japanese restaurant, which was established by their parents.

Just as a quick point of information, the Takei family is not related to “Star Trek” and theatrical star and social media sensation George Takei, but “that would be cool,” Hiro said. Odoriko has been an anchor tenant in Waikiki’s King’s Village since 1978. Established by Nobuteru and Akiko Takei, it was the family’s second restaurant and followed on the heels of Maiko, which they opened in 1972. Located at the Ilikai until 1994, Maiko was a fine-dining destination in which the waitresses wore kimono.

The word “maiko” in Japanese is loosely translated to mean apprentice geisha, while an “odoriko” is a young Japanese girl being trained in the formal arts of Japanese dance, music, poetry, tea ceremony and calligraphy. The original Odoriko will close after July, with Odori-ko set to open after a month of transition and training of Odoriko staff for the new concept. The new restaurant and bar at 1680 Kapiolani Blvd. will pay homage to its predecessor with its name, but the hyphen between “Odori” and “ko” also will serve as a differentiation for its second-generation owners and operators, siblings Hiro and Rie, as well as the more contemporarily-styled Japanese restaurant.

There is no shortage of Japanese restaurants or, for that matter, bars around that area of Kapiolani Boulevard, but “none of them are for women,” Akita said. Every aspect of the restaurant, from built-in purse hooks to standards for service, is being designed with women in mind. “If women like a place, the men will follow,” Akita said. She will serve as general manager. All will be welcome, of course, both Akita and Takei said, and they figure the greatest appeal will be to working professionals between 25 and 45 years old. The sibling partners believe their concept will offer enough of a difference to make it a draw for the workers and residents in the neighborhood.

“We are a restaurant, we also have a bar, but we wanted more than that,” Takei said. “We want to become a hangout.” In addition to bar, table and private-dining area seating, a communal table down the center of Odori-ko will offer seating for as many as 18 guests. The 2,000-square-foot dining area will have seating for about 90 customers. Just as in sports bars geared mostly toward the male demographic,

Odori-ko will have multiple televisions above the bar. During a tour of the under-construction space, there were jokes about having one for HGTV and maybe another of the screens dedicated to “Sex and the City” reruns.

In addition to its female focus, partnerships are a big part of the planning behind Odori-ko. The restaurant has agreements in place with nonprofit organizations Touch a Heart Inc., the YWCA and Junior Achievement of Hawaii Inc. wherein each nonprofit will designate a menu item, and each time a customer orders the dish, the nonprofit will get a portion of the proceeds.

Odori-ko also has enlisted ceramists, mostly teachers from Mid-Pacific Institute, Punahou School and the University of Hawaii, to custom-make the restaurant’s serving ware, which customers will be able to buy. Proceeds will go back to the artisans who created the items. Additionally, ceramics students who created sake cups for the restaurant chose Hawaii Meals on Wheels as the nonprofit to which proceeds from cup sales will be donated.

“We were born and raised here,” Takei said. “We don’t want to be just another restaurant in the community; we want to be a restaurant that is part of the community.” The desire to showcase artisans’ work in the restaurant will extend to musicians who perform in the restaurant, Takei said.

Artisanal desserts created exclusively for Odori-ko will be prepared by Sweet Revenge LLC. At lunchtime, food will be made to order, for takeout, though customers will be welcome to hang out and eat their meals at one of the tables or gather at the communal table for a lunch meeting, Takei said. The restaurant will offer Wi-Fi and self-serve water, and lunch prices will range from about $10 to $15. Dinner will be a full-service affair with traditional Japanese dishes and some contemporary twists, and checks will range from $25 to $40.

Parking could be a challenge for some, “so we’re offering a variety of options,” Takei said. Choices include $1 validated self-parking at Kapiolani Business Centre, $2 parking in a small adjacent lot on the Diamond Head side of the restaurant or $3 valet parking offered at the porte-cochere in front. Street parking also is available after 7 p.m.

Reach Erika Engle at 529-4303,, or on Twitter as @erikaengle.