Waikiki cooks up street brunch

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WAIKIKI, Hawaii -- In a continuing effort to improve the visitor experience here, the city of Honolulu is blocking off the main beachfront drag one Sunday a month for its Waikiki Brunch.

With artificial grass on the pavement and tables with umbrellas, visitors and locals are taking to the streets for food, drinks and entertainment from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. one Sunday a month (except for December when the brunch will be suspended).

The upcoming brunch schedule is Oct. 14, Nov. 11, Jan. 13, Feb. 10, March 10, April 14, May 19 and June 9.

"We keep trying to add to our plan to get locals to come to Waikiki and enhance the visitor experience," said Peter Apo, director of the city's Office of Waikiki Development.

"We're trying to create a nice Hawaiian experience with music, hula and food provided by Waikiki hotels and restaurants."

The brunches provide seating for 450 people, and Apo said he expects to have two seatings per session.

But visitors participating in the brunch don't have to eat at the tables; they can take their breakfast and coffee to the beach or walk around with it, said Apo.

Prices are set by each vendor, said Apo, "but the agreement is that prices will be nominal. No one is going to make money on this."

Apo said the city is spending $4,000 on each event, with the balance funded by the private sector.

Ernie Watari, chairman of PKF-Hawaii, a tourism consulting firm, said the brunch is the type of event Waikiki needs to keep up its image.

"The Waikiki Brunch is the kind of creative program the visitor industry needs to continue and expand [in order to] maintain competitiveness in the marketplace," said Watari, in his monthly review of hospitality industry statistics.

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