Conversation with J.J. Niebuhr, JJ Dolan’s, Honolulu, HI

J.J. lets us in on the concept, popular Hwaiian toppings and special events

JJ Dolan’sHonolulu, Hawaii

J.J. Niebuhr (left) and Danny Dolan own JJ Dolan’s, an Irish pub with hand-crafted New York-style pizza in the downtown financial district of Honolulu.

Everyone loves an Irish Pub and everyone loves pizza. It’s a perfect combination of two favorites. Also, we actually use Guinness in our dough recipe. As far as how the Irish Pub/New York Pizza combo has been received here in Honolulu, we have received a few “Top Pizza” and “Top Bar” accolades since opening in 2008. So, I guess people like the idea. Lunch is about one-third of our business. We Tweet our specials every morning right when we open. (J.J. Dolan’s has more than 2,600 followers.)

Among others, we often have a smoked kalua pork, cabbage and Maui sweet onion pie, drizzled with a locally made spicy BBQ sauce, as one of our specials. FYI — Kalua pork is pork, commonly wrapped in banana leaves and then slow cooked in an Imu (underground oven). Other “local” toppings we use are SPAM, Portuguese sausage and, of course, an abundance of locally farmed vegetables and meats … and yes, we do add pineapple to our pizza sometimes.

We are right on the edge of the downtown financial district, so a lot of our patrons walk to our place. In addition to customers from surrounding businesses, there are a lot of residents that live in our immediate area, as well as a university. That said, people do drive into the area specifically to come to J.J. Dolan’s and to visit the Arts District and Chinatown, and when they do, there is a fair amount of nearby parking available. Events like First Friday affect our business hugely.

First Friday brings thousands of people into the area every month from all over the island. (First Friday is a monthly event in downtown Honolulu with art exhibits, galleries, shops, entertainment and restaurants.) In fact, all the businesses in Chinatown and the Arts District benefit enormously from the First Friday Gallery Walk. Not only do we own a small business in the Arts District, but I am also the president of the Arts District Merchants Association. So, our interest in the monthly Gallery Walk extends beyond our own personal success.

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