Hawaii businesses thrive against the odds during coronavirus pandemic


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Resilience, courage and a bit of luck.

That combination has helped some of Hawaii’s businesses not just survive, but actually thrive through the pandemic.

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Restaurants were hit hard by the pandemic. Liliha Bakery, however, was able to bounce back and plans to open its fourth restaurant before the end of 2021.

The place well-known for its cocoa puffs has become just as popular for its restaurant offerings. The fourth location will be at the International Market Place. Despite the downturn through much of 2020, it is looking ahead to much better times by pushing the brand that has been around for 70 years.

“So as long as we prioritize our community in mind and prioritize what the original founder of Liliha Bakery’s vision was, then that will transcend and people will see that,” said Megan Birkes, director of operations and development for the Yummy Restaurant Group, which owns Liliha Bakery.

COVID-19 did not slow down the growing empire of Hawaii Jerky Shop. What started as three friends making crispy jerky in an apartment is now a company selling products in every major grocery chain and convenience store in Hawaii and on the mainland. This is despite the price of meat and other costs skyrocketing because of the pandemic.

“Initially we just took the loss knowing that eventually prices are gonna come down,” said Justin Enright, co-founder of Hawaii Jerky Shop.

It is about to move its factory to a 12,000 square foot facility in Phoenix, Arizona to keep up with the demand.

For Hunter Long and Jill Corn, opening up a zero-waste store in Kaimuki in December with the pandemic in full swing seemed like a bad idea. But their inventory has quadrupled in six months.

“It was all just zero to 100 miles per hour and we just never looked back,” said Long.

“We both are really big risk takers as well we both just kind of, when we want to do something, we jump two feet in and we don’t look back,” said Corn.

Keep It Simple sells everyday products and the idea is for customers to bring their own container to reduce waste. They say the pandemic helped in a way because there was more available space for retailers.

“Our landlord really believed in the idea and really thought that our community can use something as amazing and environmentally friendly as this kind of a store,” said Long.

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