HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Remember the old Waioli Tea Room? A new establishment has opened at the location in Manoa — and it’s much more than just an eatery.
The Waioli Kitchen and Bake Shop serves breakfast and lunch six days a week.
“We’ve tried to have great ingredients, bring them together in a very simple assembly. You can get a great meal,” owner Ross Anderson said.
He and his wife, Stephanie, opened the restaurant in November to serve food and to provide vocational instruction to "challenged" individuals.
"We call it found treasures and second chances," Anderson said.
That applies to the decor that’s comprised of items donated by other restaurants and bought at auction.
It also applies to the employees. Most of the workers have had brushes with the law or been addicted to drugs.
For them, working at the restaurant is a lifesaver and a step on their road to recovery.
"I've never been able to experience something like this, being able to wake up in the morning and enjoy going to work." counter clerk Terra Nahinu said.
"I still want to further my calling of being a counselor, a drug counselor. That's my calling, to help the next addict," said Tiffany Saleimoa, one of the restaurant's cooks.
Anderson hopes the skills they acquire will help when they move on to other jobs. It’s work with a purpose.
"This is their lives that we're encountering," he said. "We're meeting them head on. It's something that we're getting to do and it's very rewarding."
In the early 1900s, the building where the Manoa eatery is located was a training center for orphans. It’s a training center again — and a great new place to enjoy a meal.