At one point or another, we’ve all had an experience that made us think “what a small world,” whether it was running into someone you know in an unexpected place or discovering that you have more in common with a stranger than you originally thought.
Spend enough time in Hawaii and you’ll find that this is a pretty common occurrence. Seeing a familiar face isn’t all that surprising when you realize that living in a small world means that this is an even smaller island. Now, we’re about to make it even smaller!
Waikiki Beach Walk has its own fair share of well-known figures from the local community. Here are a few that you might run into during your visit to the shopping center.
Blaine Kia, Entertainment Director and Cultural Advisor at Waikiki Beach Walk
Serving as Waikiki Beach Walk’s longtime Entertainment Director and Cultural Advisor, Blaine Kia is the man behind the shopping center’s robust program of Hawaiian music and activities
. Blaine once lived and played in Waikiki as a young boy, fondly recalling adventures on Lewers Street at a time when Don Ho and other legendary artists frequently performed.
You may have seen him around the property, leading Waikiki Beach Walk’s free Ka Lei Hula
class or the popular Kū Haʻaheo music and dance concert. As a Kumu Hula (teacher of hula dance) for over 30 years, he finds joy in sharing his knowledge of Hawaiian culture with others. He has even assisted with cultural advising for the TV show, Hawaii Five-0
Hiroyuki Mimura, Executive Chef at Taormina Sicilian Cuisine
Hiroyuki “Hiro” Mimura first began cooking Italian dishes while in Tokyo, Japan. His love for the cuisine sparked a passion so deep, he moved all the way to Florence, Italy to learn more about making authentic Italian food. During his time in Europe, Hiro worked as a sous chef in various fine dining establishments. In 2004, he competed in the La Rotta del Vino Slow Food Contest, placing 1st in the Entree Competition and 4th in the Appetizer Competition.
Due to his extensive expertise from Italy, Chef Hiro was named Executive Chef of Taormina Sicilian Cuisine
in June 2010, bringing him to sunny Waikiki where he has remained ever since. His vast knowledge of Italian recipes and his understanding of local and seasonal ingredients have helped him establish an authentic menu of Sicilian dishes
that many have come to love.
Mele Kahalepuna Chun, Featherwork Master at Na Lima Mili Hulu No‘eau in The Royal Room
Located on the second level, The Royal Room
is one of Waikiki Beach Walk’s newest cultural experiences. Founded in partnership with the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame
, the exhibit takes guests through Hawaii’s rich musical heritage and offers hands-on classes promoting traditional arts, such as Hawaiian feather work.
The Royal Room offers feather flower classes on Wednesdays taught by Mele Kahalepuna Chun, a third-generation feather work artist, who started learning the craft at the age of five from her tutu, the renowned feather lei master Mary Louise Kaleonahenahe Wentworth Peck Kekuewa. Mele and her family are considered the foremost proponents of the art and have been recognized for their efforts to perpetuate Hawaiian featherwork
Rose Wong, CEO and Founder of Kolohe
Rose Wong’s entrepreneurial spirit blossomed when she was just in high school with the creation of her own jewelry brand, Kolohe
. Serving as CEO and founder, Rose has since earned recognition as a Hawaii Venture Capitalist Association
Student Entrepreneur twice and opened Kolohe’s flagship store at Waikiki Beach Walk in 2021.
Focused on building up solid gold confidence through handcrafted, custom-made jewelry
, Rose aims to turn her Hawaii-based Kolohe company into an international brand.
Tyler Gilman, Owner of The Ukulele Store
Growing up in Honolulu as part of a musical family, Tyler Gilman’s love and passion for playing the ukulele spans over 30 years. He began offering ukulele lessons in 1995, then went on to play professionally in 1999. The following year, he began his business buying and selling ukuleles
, eventually becoming an expert at selecting the finest instruments and locating rare and custom models.
Tyler has written three ukulele instruction books to date and his debut album, Ukulele Serenade, was nominated for a Nā Hōkū Hanohano award
(Hawaiian music’s equivalent of a Grammy) in 2011. The Ukulele Store’s
mission is to help others find the perfect ukulele, so that they may experience the feeling of aloha it brings for themselves.