This is a historic place that is dwindling into the sunset like so much of the beloved history in Hawaii. It was founded in 1922 by the Salvation Army as a tea room for the benefit of an orphanage and a way to teach unwed mothers skills in which to make themselves more employable. It was taken over from the Salvation Army who were going to shut it down in 2003 by Brian Jahnke, who has lovingly run it for the last 10 years, but that is about it be over. The utilities have doubled in the last few years and he can no longer afford to run this lovely piece of history so he is not going to re-new is lease in November 2013. It is up for grabs what will happen. (There is some rumor that the Salvation Army is going to take over running the place again)
Maybe it is a good idea since one can tell that the place is getting a little run down and blurred around the edges. The staff seemed harried and there is a general sense of "unkeptness" to the place. I still was charmed by the peaceful feeling there and the tablecloths that were worn and blowing about in the Manoa breezes and the little doves that begged at your feet. You can feel the history there murmuring softly all around you.
Our server was sweet, bumbling and slightly ineffective, perfectly mirroring her surroundings. I would have been shocked from my experience if she had been top notch and effective. The food was just like the place, delicious and just a little messy. My friend and I, enjoyed their "famous" curried chicken salad on a bed of greens with mango chutney that simply was divine, and her hubby had the Manoa chicken salad sandwich. All were wonderful. Then we had the Lilikoi Chiffon Cake for dessert, which was amazing.
All in all, I gave the place 4 stars for the history, the very nice food and the overall charm that whispers old ways in your ear. It is worth the trip there and worth having a soft eye to the details that are missing to enjoy the overall feeling to this slice of old Hawaii.
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