Getting to Know Jordan Lee


His neighborhood is changing, and this Our Kaka‘ako resident, visual merchandiser, and entrepreneur is busy making sense of it all.

Text by Kelli Gratz | Photos by Jonas Maon

Slender and spikey-haired, Jordan Lee moves swiftly along Auahi Street clad in a tie-dyed T-shirt and jeans, a stylistic nod to his laid-back yet urbane charm. If you’ve been to the neighborhood in the last year or so, there is a good chance you’ve seen this 33-year-old hard at work or play, and a similar chance that you’ve seen one of his displays.

Take, for example, a shimmering installation that hung from Paiko’s ceiling during the holiday season, catching every sliver of sunlight filtering through the shop’s picture windows. Lee, who created this vision, was inspired by the spring 2015 Chanel runway show, and he recruited the store’s founder Tamara Rigney and marketing associate Kenna Reed to help him make it. The trio spent hours cutting out life-size monstera-, banana-, and laua‘e-shaped leaves from gold paper. “Hanging them in the front entrance with accents of abstract florals made from leather cording and bright paper, it really popped when you saw it,” Lee says of the display.

Jordan Lee Kakaako

Lee is well-known throughout the Our Kaka‘ako community as a creative with an iron-clad work ethic and an energetic design philosophy. But when he left his hometown of Mililani in 2003 to study interior architecture and design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, he had no idea that he would call Kaka‘ako home nearly a decade later. “I had thought California was where I wanted to be because of all the job opportunities they had for design, and also because I loved the commuter lifestyle,” he says. “But when I heard about SALT and everything that was going on here from friends back home, I realized home is where I wanted to be, and I never really looked back.” As one of the early residents of 680 Ala Moana, Lee has witnessed Our Kaka‘ako’s creative transformation. “I’ve met a lot of quality people here that are passionate about what they do,” he says. “I’ve seen a different side of Hawai‘i that I never knew existed, and I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

Since his return, the designer has created visual installations throughout Honolulu, most recently as a visual merchandiser for Louis Vuitton and Paiko. Now, in addition to these gigs, Lee is prepping for the grand opening of The Public Pet, an urban pet supply store that he and his husband, Matthew Guevara, debuted in February 2016 in Kaimukī. The couple’s aim with the shop is to give local designers a platform to create something great for local cats and dogs. It will carry goods from Raw Dog Hawaii, Roberta Oaks, Toby Adams, Dee Olivia, and A.Wattz Dezigns. “It all circles back to working and living in Kaka‘ako,” Lee says. “I befriended all the other business owners here, and they’re all around my age. That’s really what inspired me to open up my own store.”

In their spare time, you may find Lee and Guevara walking around Our Kaka‘ako with their two dogs (or “babies,” as Lee fondly calls them), Lola and Pfeiffer. “They are ultimately the reasons why we moved to Kaka‘ako, and why we are opening a pet store,” Lee says, showing me a photo of them just like a proud parent would. “We needed to find a place that was pet-friendly, and a place that we could walk everywhere if we wanted to. We just love living in Kaka‘ako because the community is so close-knit.”

Jordan Lee Kakaako

Jordan Lee’s Five Favorite Things About Our Kaka‘ako

The dogs and cats in the neighborhood: “Animals are such an awesome way to start a conversation, people are so open to their energy, and quickly become receptive to talking with one another.”

Talking with the people who work and live here: “It’s been great meeting people in Kaka‘ako, the community is so new that everyone is willing to share their story of how they got here.”

The fried avocado from Cocina, and the $5 salads from The Cut: “You. Must. Try.”

The art and the community that cultivate Our Kaka‘ako: “The influence that Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i has brought to Kaka‘ako has attracted many local artists. It’s refreshing to be in the presence of people who really appreciate creativity.”

The smell of Palo Santo incense: “We burn this stuff on the hour at Paiko. I am basically addicted.”

For more information about The Public Pet, visit Find Lee’s handiwork in Our Kaka‘ako at Paiko, located at 675 Auahi St.


Hole In One

This Is It Bakery Honolulu

This Is It Bakery And Deli has been cranking out tasty bagels and other baked treats in Kaka‘ako since 1979.

Text by James Charisma |Images by John Hook

Our name has two meanings,” says Steve Gelson, owner of This Is It Bakery and Deli. “The first is what people say when they bite into one of our bagels or bread or donuts and taste the quality—that this is the real deal, you’ve found it. The second meaning is about the bakery itself—that this is the one we’re putting everything into, this is it.”

More than 35 years ago, in 1979, Hawaiian Bagel was what husband and wife owners Steve and Mona Gelson were beginning to put everything into, with the help of a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration and Steve Gelson’s father-in-law, who loved bagels. Before moving to Hawai‘i, Steve, who was born in Brooklyn, was restaurant manager at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan. Here, he met Mona, a college girl from Hawai‘i who was working at the store’s espresso bar. The two would send gifts of bagels back to Mona’s family on Maui, and her father joked that Steve should open a bagel shop in Hawai‘i to skip having to mail them. So after he and Mona married, they did just that.

But it wasn’t exactly a piece of cake. “People weren’t eating bagels in Hawai‘i back then. Sandwiches neither; it was all plate lunches,” recalls Steve, who remembers their early years in the bagel business as being a struggle. But in time, Hawai‘i customers discovered the duo’s original company, Hawaiian Bagel, and visitors turned into regulars. Soon, the Gelsons were struggling to keep up with demand. “We used to have five trucks on the roads because we were supplying to everybody. We did all the supermarkets, the military, big box stores,” Steve says.

This Is It Bakery Honolulu

When the Gelsons’ lease ran out in 1999, the couple closed Hawaiian Bagel and opened This Is It Bakery and Deli, settling in to a warehouse on Cooke Street just two blocks away from their former location on Halekauwila Street. Here, they’ve expanded their selection to include cakes, pies, and donuts (Steve says that cake is now their best seller). Baking begins at 3 or 4 a.m., when the bagels are made; donuts are whipped up in the afternoon, and bread and rolls are baked in the evening. Because of this nonstop schedule, a walk down Cooke Street at nearly any time of day means encountering the unmistakable, rich aroma of freshly baked goods.

“Kaka‘ako’s really changed. With everything happening around here, we’ve had a lot more foot traffic and people stopping by,” Steve says. “Luckily, we just have to get them in here one time to try the food and say hello, and they’ll usually come back.”

Today, Steve still spends much of his time in the kitchen, while Mona spearheads the paperwork and the company’s second location, This Is It … Too, in downtown Honolulu. “I come in every day around 10 or 11 a.m. and stay until midnight or 1 a.m.,” says Steve. “If you own your own business, it kind of ends up consuming a big part of your life, no way around it. Doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in; everybody puts in the hours.”

For Steve, the important part is that you love what you do. And his favorite part? “Eating bagels,” he says with a laugh. “A good business owner has to sample the products, you know.”

This Is It Bakery and Deli is located at 443 Cooke Street. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. For more information, visit


Slowly But Surely

Jiwa Jiwa Press Kakaako

Jiwa Jiwa Press makes its mark on Hawai‘i’s reemerging letterpress industry.

Text by Andy Beth Miller | Images by Jonas Maon

Cherish Prado-Sherman’s workspace at Lana Lane Studios is packed with paper, block letters, and multi-colored inks. Here, amid the organized chaos of Jiwa Jiwa Press, she introduces me to the brawn behind her company: Hugo and Frankie. “[Hugo is] our big hitter, our hulk, and our main squeeze,” she says, pointing to a large Gordon press with an old-school flywheel and dapper gold trim. More than a century old, this cast-iron, treadle-powered machine is responsible for the vast majority of Jiwa Jiwa Press creations, which range from stationary to art prints. Smaller in stature yet no less beloved, Frankie, a motor-powered Gordon press, is used to tackle the company’s larger-quantity print jobs. “Frankie may be little, but boy does he print!” she assures.

Jiwa Jiwa Press

The pair of handsome machines lend their muscle daily, whirring, clacking, and clicking away under the experienced guidance of Prado-Sherman, who specializes in letterpress printing, a technique that uses a press to make repeated impressions of an inked, raised surface on paper, creating numerous copies of the design. At Lana Lane, Prado-Sherman uses this personal method to produce handcrafted paper goods, including greeting cards, stationery, art prints, and custom projects such as wedding and baby announcements. “When roughly translated in Japanese, jiwa jiwa means ‘slowly, but surely’ or ‘little by little,’” she explains of her company’s name, a definition that mirrors her own diligent work ethic.

Prado-Sherman conceptualized her company after graduating with a BFA in printmaking from Portland’s Pacific Northwest College of Art, creating goods under its name while also taking on numerous apprenticeships spanning the field of printmaking. Several years later, in 2014, she returned to O‘ahu to be near family, accompanied by her husband, whom she had met while in college. Here, she turned her full attention to the craft, working out of a makeshift studio that her father, a retired welder, converted from his old workspace at her parents’ home in Mililani. In July 2015, she found the perfect long-term fit for Jiwa Jiwa Press, relocating her operations to the workshop at Lana Lane Studios, Our Kaka‘ako’s resident art collective.

Jiwa Jiwa Press

The creative entrepreneur describes the signature style of Jiwa Jiwa Press as “high class with a touch of sass.” This charisma sets the shop apart, and the sass, seen in witty cards customized to showcase each client’s style and personality, adds extra appeal. To top it off, Prado-Sherman prints exclusively on 100 percent tree-free cotton paper, and uses recycled-paper envelopes made by eco-conscious and wind-powered paper factories.

Paying homage to the classic tradition of letterpress printing while poised at the modern edge of maintaining an eco-friendly enterprise, Prado-Sherman embraces a winning combination of old meets new. “It’s still new and unknown to a lot of people here,” she says, describing O‘ahu’s burgeoning letterpress niche. For the Jiwa Jiwa Press owner, this means the chance to build something beautiful.

For more information, visit


Relishing a New Beginning

Hanks Haute Dogs Kakaako

A former five-star restaurateur finds fulfillment in creating fancy fast food at Hank’s Haute Dogs.

Text by Brad Dell | Images by John Hook

Owning a five-star restaurant is a fantasy for many cooks. But for Henry “Hank” Adaniya, the reality did not live up to the hype, so he tossed the stars aside to pursue a very different venture. “I switched from a world-class restaurant to making hot dogs,” Hank says, grinning. “That was very fulfilling. It wasn’t to be financially successful. It was to chase my dream.”

This aspiration emerged from stories his parents had told him of owning a hot dog stand called The Beach Grill at Kapi‘olani Park from 1941 to 1953. Born in Los Angeles and raised in Chicago, Hank fantasized about chasing a similar life in Hawai‘i. But he put this ultimate dream on hold while he worked in Chicago, first as a frustrated engineer, then as a cook, taking an 80 percent pay cut in order to pursue something he was passionate about.

However, he found that he lacked the essentials to become a chef. “Chefs require a whole different level of intuition about food and composition. My engineering mind thought it was all about simply adding ingredients and hoping the food comes out better,” he says. “It’s a dance, and I wasn’t a great dancer.” So he pivoted to management and opened an avant-garde, fusion restaurant named Trio.

Between 1993 and 2006, this Chicago restaurant collected a plethora of accolades, including five stars from the Mobil Travel Guide in 2004 and one of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America in 2005, and became the training ground for some of the most high-profile chefs in the country, such as multiple James Beard Award-winning chef Grant Achatz. “I reached a point where I really couldn’t get any higher than I was. Trio was rated one of the top 13 restaurants in North America [by Mobil Travel Guide] and I was like, ‘Well, alright. What’s next?’” Hank says. “I like simple yet creative food. Food with memory. Chicago-style hot dogs fulfill that for me.”

Hanks Haute Dogs Kakaako

So he turned Trio over to his partners in 2006 and moved to Hawai‘i to open his dream hot dog stand on the beach. But instead, he ended up a few blocks north of the ocean, debuting Hank’s Haute Dogs in Kaka‘ako. Taking the gourmet approach, he put a variety of sausages on the menu, including rabbit and lobster, as well as the classic Chicago beef hot dog. The restaurateur didn’t predict this fancy fare would be eagerly received on an island with a population that relishes the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo at Costco, but three hours after opening his doors for the first time, he was sold out.

Since then, Hank’s Haute Dogs has been featured on national television, and restaurant guide Gayot named it one of the top 10 hot dog spots in the country. In December 2014, Hank even achieved his dream of a beachfront location, debuting a stand in Lāhainā, Maui. The visionary entrepreneur runs the business side of both spots and is also the creative mind behind most of his menu items, like the Greek dog, made with lamb sausage and tzatziki sauce, and the rabbit sausage, topped off with a dijon truffle cheese sauce. “Although I’m not a chef, I can cook hot dogs okay,” he says.

What dream will he pursue next? “I’ve accomplished most of my food dreams,” he says. “Maybe a champagne bar.”

Hank’s Haute Dogs is located in Our Kaka‘ako at 324 Coral St. and at Sheraton Maui, 2605 Kaanapali Pkwy., on Maui. For more information, visit


For Art’s Sake

Pow Wow

Pow! Wow! has evolved from a gallery show into an organization enriching a global community

Text by Brad Dell | Images courtesy of Pow! Wow!

In 2011, artists from across the globe were set to fly to O‘ahu for a festival in Kaka‘ako, when the event’s sponsors pulled their funding. The festival’s founder and director, Jasper Wong, had less than a week to make a choice: cancel the event, feature only local artists, or pay for it all himself.

“So I pulled out my credit card and just paid for everything out of pocket and put myself into debt,” Wong says.

This investment became the first Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i, a flourishing week-long festival held each February in Kaka‘ako that brings local, national, and international artists to the neighborhood to create murals and installation pieces. The inaugural Hawai‘i event included just 11 muralists. This February, it brings more than 100 artists, deejays, musicians, photographers, and bloggers to the island.

Castle Hill-1

Caption: POW! WOW! SXSW 2015

While Hawai‘i is at the core of the organization, Honolulu isn’t where it all started. Wong, who majored in illustration at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, held the first Pow! Wow! in Hong Kong in 2010, where he had moved four years prior. He had been trying to break into the city’s art scene, but was disappointed by the emphasis on buying art only as an investment. To protest this, Wong gathered four friends for an art exhibition, creating a collaboration that he titled Pow! Wow!

“We had a gallery full of blank canvases and painted them. Then we destroyed the majority of them afterward as a reaction to the financial nature of the art industry in Hong Kong,” Wong says. “We wanted to think of art’s ephemeral nature, harking back to when we were just kids and painted for fun, just to enjoy the act of creating as opposed to selling. For art’s sake.”

Wong toyed with the idea of taking this event to a number of other destinations until his friend Christa Wittmier, aka SuperCW, convinced him to bring it back to the city where he was raised: Honolulu. As this central event gained popularity, Wong expanded the festival to other locations. Since 2014, there have been Pow! Wow! events in Long Beach, California; Austin, Texas; Taipei, Taiwan; and Tokyo, Japan. Pow! Wow! organizers continue to plan festivals all over the world, including a return to Austin this spring and Long Beach in the summer.


Caption: POW! WOW! TAIWAN 2014

“We want to build bridges across the globe and connect people through art and music,” Wong says. “It’s a movement that spans cultures and ethnic groups.”

Pow! Wow! usually selects locations based on opportunities that present themselves, but Wong says he is trying to focus on picking places that are also in need of revitalization. He is most excited about bringing a festival to Kathmandu, Nepal, once he figures out the logistics of getting the appropriate supplies into the country.

“The buildings are in such disarray because of the [April 2015] earthquakes. A lot of guys tell me they would love to have art on their buildings because the damage is such a constant reminder of what happened,” Wong says. “Our art is much more than about aesthetic. It’s about making people feel different about their city.”

This year’s Pow! Wow! Hawai‘i took place February 7–13, 2016 in Kaka‘ako. For more information, visit