Kaimuki hangs onto old-school charm

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One of the oldest neighborhoods on Oahu is transforming.

Kaimuki is known for its mom and pop stores, but continues to welcome more modern and eclectic businesses.

Gordon Tam fixes a shoe at his repair shop on 12th Avenue — a trade he’s been around all his life.

“Customers come by word of mouth, they pass along to their friends and stuff. I don’t do any advertising,” said Tam, owner of Tam’s Shoe Repair Shop.

The shop has been operating in Kaimuki for 65 years, one of the oldest shops in town.

“All the mom and pop stores, kind of disappearing,” Tam said.

‘Toys N’ Joys’ on Waialae Avenue recently announced it was closing after 30 years. But some, including the Crack Seed Store, continue to hang on.

“How have you been able to survive for 35 years?” KHON2 asked.

“We are very fortunate. That’s all I can say,” Crack Seed store owner Konping Young said.

She says the store hasn’t changed much, except for customers.

“There was a lot of school kids around. Compared to now, it’s only, I don’t know, 10 percent,” Young said.

Kaimuki continues to make room for places like Otto Cake, which relocated from Chinatown this summer.

Ten years ago, 12th Avenue Grill opened in Kaimuki and is now moving into the space formerly occupied by Victoria Inn, which closed in 2011 after 30 years.

“It’s becoming more of an upscale, contemporary type place that I was looking to do when I moved in here first,” 12th Avenue Grill owner Kevin Hanney said.

It’s contemporary without losing its mom and pop charm.

“We not making big money but, not too bad,” Tam said.

The restaurant will open to the public in its new location in October.

It will keep its current location and turn it into a breakfast-type restaurant in November.

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