The announcement that Chai’s Island Bistro will vacate the almost-empty Aloha Tower Marketplace came as a harsh blow to the already struggling complex. So it would be especially nice if the 2012 New Year’s Eve party is a big hit.
It won’t be thrown by last year’s team, however, even though the 2011 event had upwards of 10,000 attendees and record sales at participating bars, says Jonathan Mack, one of last year’s promoters. “[Aloha Tower first] came to us [to produce an event] in 2010, because they were unable to pay for fireworks,” Mack recalls. “We invested in the fireworks, entertainment, production and marketing with little or no help from Aloha Tower,” who, in return, let them keep 100 percent of the revenue generated from ticket sales, he adds.
Next, Mack and his business partner, Michael Galmiche, signed an agreement with Aloha Tower stating that they would be the sole promoters of any New Year’s Eve event at the venue for the next five years. But when the parties sat down in 2012 to discuss this year’s plans, new management wanted a bigger profit, despite the existing contract, Mack says. “They told us  was a great event, ‘but these are the new rules: We want to control the branding, tell you how much you can spend on production and marketing . . . we’ll collect all the money and pay you after’ . . . .” Instead, Mack and Galmiche decided to move their event to Kakaako Waterfront Park.
In addition to Aloha Tower Marketplace, Mack had signed contracts on behalf of Galmiche Entertainment with the Waterfront and the former Don Ho’s venue (c/o Gordon Biersch), which they are now unable to uphold. Gordon Biersch General Manager Joe Glarner refused to comment, but wished Galmiche luck in Kakaako.
Aloha Tower will now host the New Year’s Eve Aloha Tower Block Party, for which 13,000 attendees are expected. Management did not return calls by press time, but according to Raymond Ho, Jr., of Ray Jr., one of the promoters for this year’s party, “New owners came in and didn’t like how it was run last year . . . [there were] logistical problems with the whole event.” According to Ho, when Aloha Tower tried to change the contract (which, having been made with previous management, was “obsolete”), half the promoters, including Mack, left, while the rest, including Tantriq and OOSpot, chose to stay. It’s still, Mack says, “a blessing in disguise.”