Waioli Tea Room faces uncertain future

MANOA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Change is coming to a hidden treasure in Manoa. The historic Waioli Tea Room has been welcoming customers for 90 years, but now the beloved restaurant is facing an uncertain future.

The tea room is nestled in lush Manoa Valley, just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Honolulu. Brian Jahnke has run the restaurant for the last decade, but now he is calling it quits.

"Gas, water, and electric basically all doubled, and food product of course all went up. The economy has been up and down. It's a wonderful place, but it's really hard financially to make it," explained Jahnke.

Jahnke took over the restaurant after being a long-time customer. He said it was a bittersweet decision to let his lease expire in November. The tea room has been a favorite gathering place for generations of island families.

"Everything is always first class. They take good care of you," said customer Kevin Davidson.

"Grandmothers maybe got married here, then they have their baby showers here and bridal showers here. It's just a part of so many people's lives," said Jahnke.

The historic property belongs to the Salvation Army.

"The tea room was built in 1922 to support the programs of the Salvation Army here in Hawaii to provide a means for individuals to gain skills so they could go out and get a job after they left the Salvation Army," said John Chamness of the Salvation Army.

The organization is hoping to find a way to keep the business going. One option is to have the Salvation Army run the tea room again.

"Currently, we're out looking for some new venture, some new way we can run the tea room. It will continue to be a restaurant, but we're looking for a new partner in the tea room," said Chamness.

"There are so few restaurants left from the old Hawaii, and I guess I would really love to see it continue," Jahnke said.

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