Pandemic’s Local Business Toll

Jan 15, 2021

Restaurants and bars dominate the group of businesses that have closed in Hawaii since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. It's a list compiled by Pacific Business News.

 

Alan Wong’s Restaurant. Irish Rose Saloon. Chart House Waikiki. Gecko Comics and Books. Pomaikai Ballrooms. These are just a few of the 86 businesses we know of that closed in 2020 for lack of revenue amid Covid restrictions.

Data released by the state recently show that businesses bankruptcies declined in 2020, by nearly 9% compared to 2019. This would be good news in a healthy economy, but it doesn’t reflect the business failure rate in this economy. Bankruptcy is a process for restructuring  debt, so that a business can catch its breath and continue on. Hawaii is losing businesses that aren’t filing for bankruptcy, they’re simply closing.

For unsurprising reasons. At Da Kitchen, on Maui, tourists comprised 85% of the restaurant’s customers. Co-owner Mariah Brown said that once travel restrictions began last March, they went from serving 1,000 customers a day to 60. The 22-year-old restaurant closed in June.

On Oahu, REAL gastropub had only been in its new location for a year when Covid restrictions began in March. It first opened in Ward Village in 2012, but by last June, it too had closed for good.

Co-owner Troy Terorotua tells PBN, “There was no decent scenario where we weren’t going to lose money.”

His fixed costs included rent and utilities, while restrictions limiting capacity made it impossible to earn enough to pay the bills.