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In the Kitchen - JJ Niebuhr

In the Kitchen - JJ Niebuhr

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Published by Kelsey Longo

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Published by: Kelsey Longo on Nov 24, 2012
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In The Kitchen
 
John “JJ” Niebuhr
 By: Kelsey Longo
He came rushing out of the kitchen doors and quickly shook hands with threedifferent patrons in the establishment. By most measures, he was nondescript: ayoungish man in a white chef apron, plain white t-shirt, and tousled hair. He stoppedto talk to two more customers sitting at the bar before making his way to a tablewith a Guinness in hand.The tables, which are made from recycled wood from old bleachers cast out by theUniversity of Haw
ai‘i,
were all occupied with beers, pizzas, and happy patronsconsuming the prior two. It was 3:15 p.m. on a Monday, the lull period for most businesses in the food and beverage industry. But at JJ Dolans, it would seem that this slow duration was nonexistent. For the next 53 minutes, each bar stool held acustomer and every table was full.Most would not know it, but the man in the chef apron was the co-owner of thisrestaurant. John Niebuhr,
known as “JJ” around the streets of Ch
inatown, chroniclesthe success of his business, JJ Dolans, on one simple concept: hot pizza and cold beer.Niebuhr
, who gives himself the title as “Pizza Guy” on his business card,
found his
love for pizza back in Jersey City where he is originally from. “I was in the
second-grad
e and I went on a field trip to a local pizzeria,” Niebuhr said. “I was selected out 
of one boy and one girl in the second-grade class to go ahead and make a pizza, and Iknew right then, at 
that moment, that I wanted to be in the pizza business.”
 Before beginning his working life in the downtown area, Niebuhr was making pizzas
at Kemo‘o Farms in Schofield
and spending his leisure time in Chinatown.
“OnFriday nights, I would finish up at Kemo‘o Farms at 4:30 p.m.,” Niebuhr said. “I
would come down and be here (Chinatown) by 5:30 p.m. and bring the guys at 
Murphy’s a pizza and have a beer.”
 
And that’s where it all
jump-started for Niebuhr.
Don Murphy, of Murphy’s Bar &Grill, made Niebuhr’s pizza deliveries a regular Friday night occasion. Then in 1997,
Niebuhr jumped on board
Murphy’s bartending team, and became a full
-timebartender in 2001.
“JJ had a knack for customer service and made a darn goodpizza,” Murphy said.
 
“Those pizzas definitely had a little Jersey flare to them
and thepeople at the bar loved it 
.”
 Thro
ugh Niebuhr’s
regularity in the downtown area, both working and playing, hewas able to build relationships with the right people. One of those key individuals ishis current partner, Danny Dolan, who shared the same dream as Niebuhr inopening up an establishment that would fill a void
in Chinatown. “
In December of 2007, I got a phone call from Danny, who just left his bartending
job at O’Toole’s,
looking for something to do,
he
said. “From there, we got together a
nd put togethera plan of what downtown needed
.”
 

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