Have Aloha Will Travel EP104: Discover Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown with a Local Bar Owner
Co-owner of The Lei Stand, Honolulu’s buzzworthy new cocktail lounge, Ryan Kalei Tsuji shares why he’s drawn to these Oʻahu neighborhoods and what he hopes for the historic area.
Episode 104 of the “Have Aloha Will Travel” is a tribute to Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. The streets of these Oʻahu neighborhoods are filled with fascinating stories and are home to establishments that have persevered through some of the most transformative decades in Hawaiʻi.
These businesses include old-school lei vendors like Cindy’s Lei & Flower Shoppe and Lin’s Lei Shop, which happened to inspire one of the newest residents in town. The Lei Stand, which opened in November 2022, is a chic cocktail lounge paying homage to these long-standing mom-and-pop flower shops.
Podcast co-hosts Kevin Allen, Catherine Toth Fox and Grace Maeda welcome Ryan Kalei Tsuji, co-owner of The Lei Stand, to discuss his new cocktail lounge and to dish on his favorite spots in Downtown Honolulu and Chinatown.
Located on Bethel Street, Tsuji says The Lei Stand does indeed operate as a lei shop, offering fresh flower lei made by local artisans. It’s actually the only spot in the area where customers can purchase lei late into the evening. But behind the shop, is a lounge that brings together craft cocktails and dishes created by a James Beard Award nominee, all while celebrating the iconic flower shops of the neighborhood. Tsuji describes The Lei Stand’s clientele as a lei, a vibrant conglomeration of people spanning different backgrounds and generations.
And after a few short months, The Lei Stand is already a hot destination. Tsuji adds it certainly didn’t hurt when Justin and Haley Bieber were spotted at the lounge. Reservations are strongly recommended but Tsuji says walk-ins are also welcomed.
While The Lei Stand is a must-visit for cocktail aficionados, Tsuji also recommends checking out EP Bar, Fête and Tchin Tchin. Make sure to listen to the entire podcast for all of Tsuji’s recommendations.
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