With Symphony Honolulu Unit 4202 now ready for move-in, and we are excited about what is coming to its ground floor! Pacific Business News has a great article updating us on what is to come to Velocity, the ground floor retail and restaurant space within the Symphony. In addition to automotive dealership featuring European car models, there will be a restaurant featuring Italian wine, pizza and paninis; a women's dayspa, men's clothing store, and more! Read below for full details:
The bottom floor of Symphony Honolulu, a new condominium tower at 888 Kapiolani Blvd., will host a car dealership by Hawaii-based JN Group Inc., two Italian restaurants by PJ Partners Inc. of Japan, a wine and food store, and two combination retail store/salons.
“Velocity is the retail piece of Symphony Honolulu. It’s a culmination of eight European automotive brands and eight European motorcycle brands,” Brad Nicolai of JN Group, the parent company of JN Automotive Group, told Pacific Business News in an interview. Cars sold in Velocity include Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and other European exotics. Click on a photo to see a slideshow.
Velocity’s men’s clothing store, called Sixty-One, will include a men’s barber shop. The store is named after the year that Nicolai’s father, Joe Nicolai, founded JN Group in Honolulu in 1961. The men’s clothing store and salon will be the developer’s own retail concept. The group also operates Harley-Davidson clothing outlets on Oahu.
A woman’s boutique will include women’s spa services such as a dry bar and lash bar. Kristin Wood, founder of Honolulu salon Kristin Wood Lashes, will operate the salon.
Velocity will also host a wine and gourmet food store owned by a separate operator.
Nicolai said he envisions Velocity as a reflection of the piazza public markets found in towns and cities across Italy.
“Fortunately, through my travels through Asia, Europe and New York City, I’ve been able to get different conceptual ideas of how retail can work with residential, mixed-use projects,” he explained. “The unique experience we’re trying to connect is tied to my father’s Italian heritage, the experience of the old country.”
The developers also have plans to make the space a venue for performances.
“We took the piazza concept as a place of congregation,” Nicolai explained. “Kakaako has really lent itself to be a host to artisans whether it be fixed art or live art.” As the space is across the street from the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, “it lends itself with music and arts.”
Velocity’s two leveled architecture will include a restaurant upstairs and downstairs. Restaurant operator PJ Partners, who also operate Honolulu’s Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin, have not released the restaurant names. Both will be under the direction of Italian Michelin Chef Gianpaolo Raschi.
The bottom floor of Velocity will host a “typical Italian wine and bar,” as Chef Maurizio Roberti described. Roberti is an Italian cuisine master chef currently based in Japan and is working to develop the restaurants. The bottom floor will also have an espresso bar.
In addition to drinks, the menu will include pizza and paninis. “People will call it fast food; we call it soul food. It’s fast on the go, but it’s still soul food,” Roberti said.
The downstairs restaurant will seat 40 to 50 customers, plus outdoor seating.
The ground floor will have a high ceiling and a mezzanine to showcase the automotive outlet’s Ducati motorcycles and Vespa scooters.
“You get the feeling that you don’t need to get on a plane and go to Italy, you can just come down to Velocity. That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to create” Roberti explained.
Ingredients for the restaurant’s menu will include a combination of locally sourced food and Italian imported cheeses and meats. The still-unnamed restaurant is reaching out to locally sourced food producers to partner with and specifically seeks a Hawaii-based gelato company. The restaurant is also looking into making its own Italian sausages to add to the menu.
Velocity’s upstairs area will have a cocktail bar and a formal dining restaurant. A large glass window will separate the kitchen from the dining area, so “you can actually see all the chefs at work,” Roberti said.
The upstairs restaurant’s menu will include predominantly seafood — Gianpaolo Raschi’s specialty.
Roberti described the menu as “simplified Italian, not the over-indulgent, swimming in oil, backstroke in tomato sauce or anything like that. It’s real Italian.”
Upstairs restaurant will include a VIP shift-table area that seats 10. Restaurant developers did not provide price points for menu items upon request. Combined, both restaurants will cover 6,000 square feet including the outdoor seating area.
The restaurant projects are looking to hire locally, and they have plans to create apprenticeships and a collaboration with Kapiolani Community College. “We would like to get the community involved in our project,” Roberti said.
Symphony Honolulu is a 388-unit condominium tower and has been open to unit owners since June. According to Nicolai, the tower’s units are about 96 percent sold out. JN Group developed the tower in collaboration with OliverMcMillan LLC.