Chinatown merchants say First Friday needs a makeover - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Chinatown merchants say First Friday needs a makeover

Ty Griffith Ty Griffith
Christopher Oswalt Christopher Oswalt
Brian Bueza Brian Bueza
Sandy Pohl Sandy Pohl
Taunee Williams Taunee Williams

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - First Friday advertises itself as a celebration of the arts and the nightlife in downtown Honolulu. The monthly party in the arts district is pay day for Hank's Cafe. The bar and eatery banks on First Friday business.

"First Friday is our moneymaker," bartender Ty Griffith said. "We pay rent. We fill up the bar the whole night. We get all kinds of different publicity, different people in here."

But a few doors down, the manager of Tin Can Mailman, a Hawaiian vintage antiques store, said the day after First Friday is a major pain.

"I'll smell the urine," Christopher Oswalt said.

He said First Friday goers relieve themselves in his doorway. He's cleaned up vomit, cigarette butts and lots of litter

"It's not about the art or commerce or Chinatown or Hawaii any more. It's about drinking and drinking and drinking more," Oswalt said.

"Unfortunately it's going to be a by product of it getting larger and attracting even more people," said graphic artist Brian Bueza. He gave up coming to the monthly event.

Some Chinatown merchants said it's gotten out of hand with public drunkenness and patrons trashing the place. The owners of the art galleries that started First Friday about a decade ago are trying to clean up its reputation.

"So the Arts District Merchants Association, we hire off-duty officers on First Friday to help us control the crowds," said Sandy Pohl of Louis Pohl Gallery.

She said First Friday averages 5,000 to 8,000 people a night.

"I like the shops staying open late. People bring their kids. It's a family atmosphere. Very safe," Taunee Williams said.

But merchants said after 10 p.m. the problems start.

"I'd like to see it revert back to the way it used to be," Oswalt said.

It will take an effort by fans of First Friday and a change in behavior to make that happen..

"Come in the clubs. Have a drink. Just do it nice. Do it safe and respect the place." Griffith said.

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