“…Take one down and pass it around. There’s still 99 hundred bottles of Gin on the Wall.”
While an exaggeration, one look around Ewa Pantry in Ewa Beach, and you’d be hard-pressed not to believe there’s more than that many bottles of just about every type of alcoholic beverage one can find on the PLANET in this moderately-sized store. After hearing about this place from my coworkers who live in Ewa Beach, while out there recently on a work-related field trip, I dropped by Ewa Pantry to it see for myself.
Sure enough, Oh. My. GOD! I have NEVER seen this much variety and quantity of spirits under one roof in my entire life! We’re talking wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor and every nook ‘n cranny in between crammed with hard liquor, liqueur, wine, champagne, beer, “moonshine” and whatever else that has the word “Proof” somewhere on its label.
Ironically, hot on the heels of my visit to Silva’s Store right down the street, as it turns out, Ewa Pantry owner Danny Hwang (originally from South Korea, however grew up on Oahu) once owned Silva’s store from 1990 to ’95, as well as Diners Drive-In in Pearl City in the Waimalu Plaza (Safeway & City Mill anchor tenants) from 1994 to 2004.
In 2004 Danny sold Diners Drive-In to start Ewa Pantry in the Ewa Pointe Marketplace as one of its original tenants. By the way, it isn’t in Ewa Beach Shopping Center, as it’s mislabeled on Google Maps.
Ewa Pantry struggled when it first started, due to the fact that Ocean Pointe was still being built and many surrounding new housing developments were just beginning to become occupied. Also, for the first 3 years of Ewa Pointe being open, you could only make a right turn heading Makai on Fort Weaver Road, however you couldn’t turn left into the Marketplace parking lot heading Mauka. Not only that, but there weren’t any recognizable anchor tenants at the time, until KFC finally got built years later.
Today, Danny says business is doing fairly well, with a support base of regular customers, as well as positive word-of-mouth advertising due to Ewa Pantry’s incredible inventory of exotic alcoholic beverages. In fact, when asked how he would summarize Ewa Pantry in one sentence, Danny says it would be “Oahu’s Largest Selection of Alcoholic Beverages”. And quite possibly the entire state! And unless the likes of an alcoholic beverages “big box” retailer such as BevMo! comes to town (yes, stores like do exist!), Ewa Pantry looks to hold on to that title. And it should, as it’s quite simply AWESOME!
Incredibly, even with that many shiny glass bottles bound to attract dust, the entire inventory is kept very clean and dust-free, making everything look like fresh stock, even if it had been sitting for a while. And Danny doesn’t mind inventory sitting, as he’d rather have what the larger retailers don’t carry, as that’s Ewa Pantry’s niche. Supermarkets and wholesale clubs will only stock what moves and purchased in bulk, while he goes for the “onesie-twosie” specialty liquors you just won’t see anywhere else.
Speaking of stock, at any given time, there are between 3,500 and 5,000 individual label sku numbers available. Which is incredible, considering that many bottles can actually fit within the store’s moderate 2,500 of floor space. And every bottle for sale in Ewa Pantry is purchased through licensed alcoholic beverage wholesale distributors in the state of Hawaii. So there’s no “iffy”, non-approved “moonshine” sold here from third world countries or uncle Jack’s den, if ya’ know what I mean.
Price-wise, Ewa Pantry strives to be competitive with most of the mainstream liquors such as Crown Royal and Patron, while of course Danny says his prices on even many of the niche items are close to what you’d pay at the supermarket or online, if they even carry it. The only thing he can’t complete with the bigger boys are high volume items such as Heineken Beer, where places such as Walmart will sometimes sell liquor like that at loss leader prices just to get you in the store, not to mention the ability to buy at lower bulk prices with room to store it.
There’s a no return policy at Ewa Pantry, which Danny explained is the only way to keep the business profitable, while also protecting customers from potentially tampered products. A good case-in-point in recent news in that regard would be a story out of San Francisco, where a woman attempted to switch orange juice in a Starbucks Cafe with ones that were laced with lethal amounts of Isopropyl Alcohol in it. Scary. So in one way, think of Ewa Pantry’s no return policy as a guarantee that the product you’re buying is 100% what it is, and new at that, not “previously owned”.
They also carry a nice selection of Cigars, however I got so overwhelmed with all the booze, paid little attention to “little detailed add-ons” like that. But hey, by all means, you Cigar aficionados may want to call or head on over to Ewa Pantry yourself and check out if they’ve got a smoke that suits your taste.
Well, let’s take a walk around Ewa Pantry and get virtually toasted together….
It is absolutely MIND-BLOWING how much booze is squeezed into this moderately-sized store. On top of that, many of it are in single facings (one item per linear shelf space), not duplicated to fill shelf space like you’d find in a supermarket. While you certainly should never drink and drive, you also shouldn’t enter this story under the influence, as there’s way too many delicate bottles vulnerable to being knocked over. In fact, they should require a sobriety test to everyone walking IN the store! Seriously!
There’s so much booze in there, this is how my liver probably looked while in the place…
This place sort of reminds me of those tiny otaku shops in Tokyo, stuffed every cubical inch of shelf, box or floor space with merchandise, with only enough clear pathway for one person to walk through at a time in any given direction. Especially in the back hard liquor area. If you remember how Toys ‘n Joys in Kaimuki used to be before they expanded, think that, except filled with booze instead of Japanese toy collectibles. Which means you certainly don’t wanna’ walk into this store already feeling tipsy, lest you start a domino effect fall of an entire run of Johnny Walker that just so happened to be right next to your foot. Ack!
Which is why I had such strained camera angles, as I could barely get enough distance to fit an entire aisle or wall within the frame, the space between was that narrow. The camera I was using not having a wide angle lens didn’t help either.
Danny updates Ewa Pantry’s Facebook page himself, juggling that along with his busy schedule running the business. Here’s a few of the past arrivals he’s posted on FB…
Don Q Mojito & Coco, 2 new rums from DonQ. In stock now at Ewa Pantry (posted on FB 12/2012).
Another must-try apple cider. Will be available on Mon 9/24.
Don’t let the sweet taste fool you. It registers at 6.2% alc.
J. K.’s Scrumpy Hard Cider in 22 oz btl. Brought the sample btl home. Ummm Yummm. So sweet, so delicious…you gonna want to drink it all night long. It’ll be available at Ewa Pantry on Mon 9/24/12.
Dark Depth with 7.8% alc brewed by Sam Adams available in 22 oz. Just in time for the football season.
Oktoberfest by Erdinger available now!
Another new Mexican beer to hit the island. Available at Ewa Pantry in 6-pks.
CHILI BEER (Cerveza con Chili)
Just got the original Chili Beer in 6-pks re-stocked and chilled to ice-cold, just the way it’s recommended. Each btl has one green seranno chili inside.
New beers at Ewa Pantry
New beers at Ewa Pantry
I really can’t say any more about Ewa Pantry except you really need to go and check it out for yourself. Even if you’re not a drinker (I can’t drink hards at all), you’ll be absolutely jaw-dropped by how many different alcoholic beverages they stock.
While from the outside it appears very unassuming, once you enter its hallowed halls, you’ll realize Ewa Pantry isn’t just any other neighborhood liquor store, but more like an 80 Proof MUSEUM!
91-1001 Kaimalie St
Ewa Beach, HI 96706
Tel. (808) 689-0000
Mon-Sat 8 am – 11:30 pm
Sun 9 am – 11:30 pm