Trailblazer Tavern is, like its landlord Salesforce and its founder Mina Group, big and ambitious. Named after one of the personas created by Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff — “a leader, a transformer, an innovator” — Trailblazer Tavern has carved out a large chunk of downtown real estate dedicated to Hawaiian comfort food from Hawaiian chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka (MW Restaurant in Honolulu).
The result of this titanic collaboration is a 7,000-square-foot restaurant within the Salesforce East building, with mezzanine seating that overlooks the lobby, a spacious dining room and bar with private dining rooms, and an outdoor patio with heaters and string lights. As workers in the area may already know, Salesforce often opens its immense, glass doors ground-level when the weather is nice, which will potentially give mezzanine diners an actual Hawaiian vibe, reminiscent of the many semi-outdoor dining rooms throughout the islands.
It was designed by LA-based Bishop Pass — also behind the design of Mina Group’s Pabu — with a nod to Salesforce’s national park theme that has become part Mission Street’s aesthetic, due to the company’s proliferation of real estate downtown. This iteration is combined with Hawaiian elements, however, including a carved inscription that reads E komo mai, e noho mai, e ‘ai a e, wala‘au, which means “Come in, come sit, eat, and talk.” There are lots of built-in Easter eggs for Saleforce employees as well, like the design of the mezzanine floor as a topographical map, using stones, tile and wood to reference the company’s “Blaze Your Trail” motto.
For the chefs, it’s an opportunity to bring their food to the mainland in a big way. “Our whole concept was to showcase Hawaii and share the story of Hawaii with the people,” says Michelle Karr-Ueoka. “We’re taking Hawaii’s iconic dishes and making that something unique; some of the dishes are going to be classics that [our restaurant] MW Restaurant opened with five years ago.”
That includes dishes based on Hawaiian techniques like kalua pig, traditionally cooked in an underground oven called an imu. Chef Wade Ueoka says he’s been working on a preparation to recreate the original technique in the restaurant’s kitchen to be served tableside with lau lau (meat or fish cooked in taro leaves), and vegetables. A Hawaiian plate lunch sandwich is also an homage to the popular tradition in Hawaii, combining several typical components in sandwich form: Korean fried chicken, kalbi, and spicy pork on Karr-Ueoka’s mochi bread. Dessert is also a trip through the islands, with coffee and cream shave ice, a tropical creme brulee with lilikoi sorbet, and Japanese-style cheesecake with Li-Hing strawberries. Check out the menus here.
Drinks seem designed to match the scope, pulling out all the stops with drinks in Spam cans, tiki mugs, and more. Brian Means consulted on the menu, which is filled with tropical influences, plus healthy glut of bourbon and Japanese whisky. Sommelier and winemaker Rajat Parr, longtime Mina partner and consultant, designed the 100-bottle wine list, of which many of which are considered “low intervention.” There’ll also be beers from Hawaii to please the happy hour crowd, which one can assume will be filled with throngs of enthusiastic members of Salesforce.
It opens today, December 3, Trailblazer Tavern will open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.; though not available at opening, lunch will be added Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.; Happy hour goes from 3 p.m.- 6 p.m. on weekdays.