The face of Oahu has changed so much in the last decade, much of which can be attributed to entrepreneurial spirits such as Tiffany Tanaka, founder and owner of Fresh Cafe Hawaii (www.freshcafehi.com). Where we once struggled to have a little variety amidst our seclusion in the middle of the Pacific, the brain drain of our island’s youth has brought about a renaissance of new ideas. Take Tiffany, for one. Graduating from Punahou in 1998, Tiffany headed out from Hawaii like many of us do, eventually making her way to the University of San Francisco. That’s where I had the pleasure of first meeting Tiffany, sparking a great friendship that has lasted all these years. One thing needs to be said about being away from home — when we make our way back to Hawaii (and believe me, we usually do), we bring back what we learned and experienced in a tangible and unshakeable way. That’s what Tiffany did, and Fresh Cafe is a realization of that journey.
The 831 Queen Street location of Fresh Cafe has constantly reinvented itself. From it’s beginnings as Hawaii’s first commercial eBay storefront (wesellthings4u), to a small fashion boutique (Queens Hawaii), to its current Fresh Cafe moniker, the venue has proved as eclectic as its inventive owner. I’ll be the first to admit that when Tiffany told me she was opening a cafe/eatery spot in Honolulu, I dismissed it as another recycled idea that had been overdone in this age of “there’s a Starbucks on every corner.” Then again, knowing Tiffany, I should have known she would take the basic premise, tweak it, and produce her own unique take on the cafe idea. True-to-form, she did just that, and Fresh Cafe reflects that.
With a new vision in tow, Tiffany and the staff at Fresh Cafe have transformed their spot into a full-fledged venue, hosting everything from the popular Art & Flea event (a “buy local” event featuring local goods from local vendors), to art showcases such as the popular Pow Wow Hawaii show, to vinyl record sales, to b-boy events, to weekly jazz performances, to concerts and events of all types. All the while, the friendly staff up-front serves up a great array of coffee, drinks, salads and more. Or, drop on by to Kaka’akoCool, an offshoot of Fresh Cafe that’s definitely not your typical convenience store. With a new menu in the works, along with plans for national expansion into mainland markets, Fresh Cafe has become the new fresh face of the emerging Kaka’ako scene.