The government can raise taxes or impose higher fees when a recession cuts its revenues, but businesses in the private sector have to be more imaginative to survive through lean periods. A business can’t arbitrarily raise prices to keep revenues up when sales are down — doing that can price its goods or services out of the market. Instead it must find more customers, provide other services and/or increase efficiency. Greg Azus, owner of Pipeline Cafe, has been doing all three.
Azus has expanded the club’s reputation as a place to go for food — and for having an extensive menu that is a world away from late-night bar grinds. The Pipe’s weekday happy-hour menu makes the upstairs sports bar a great destination for pau hana or as a first stop for a night out.
There was some serious action on the pool tables when we stopped by late on a Monday afternoon. Sports highlights were playing on the television screens, but the room is large enough that there were also quiet corners that would have done well for a romantic rendezvous.
The list of food specials is short, but everything we tried lived up to expectations. The Chicken Katsu ($2), served hot with a ball of rice, was moist chicken strips in a crunchy breaded crust. I’ve eaten more oily katsu than I should have over the years; The Pipe’s katsu wasn’t oily and tops the best I can remember.
805 Pohukaina St.; 589-1999; pipelinecafehawaii.com
The Steak Cut Fries ($2), a pile large enough for several hungry patrollers, was another standout selection. The server warned that they were served hot, and so they were — hot melt-in-your-mouth potato in a crisp toasty crust.
Fried food and starch are always good foundations when preparing for a long-term exposure to alcohol, but anyone seeking to include some of the other major food groups will applaud the Fresh Vegetable Plate ($3).
"Healthy food" sometimes seems an afterthought on happy-hour menus, but the slices of red pepper, cucumber, celery, carrot and tomato were indeed fresh and tasty.
The Quesadilla with Cheese ($3), a plate of four pieces with salsa, black olives and spicy green peppers on the side, was less amazing compared with the other three but no less satisfying.