Murphy’s closing on weekends as tourists search for open tables

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The big issue that visitors to Hawaii say they’re faced with when they come to the islands is not the state’s Safe Travels program.

According to a survey by the Hawaii Tourism Authority, 30% of visitors said the biggest issue is limited capacity or availability of restaurants and attractions.

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Many visitors have complained about the improbability of getting a spur-of-the-moment table, as most places need a reservation to get a table.

Most restaurants say social distancing requirements, and the ongoing worker shortage are to blame.

That includes Murphy’s Bar and Grill, which is closing this weekend in observance of the 4th of July holiday, and every weekend afterward for the foreseeable future.

“We’re low on staff we’re hiring trying to hire running ads and trying to get some people interested in coming back to work.” owner Don Murphy said.

The shortage has weighed on his staff, forcing him to close to give his employees a much-needed reprieve.

“I didn’t have the staff,” Murphy said. “I don’t have the cooks, and my guys are working, Three of them are working six days a week. One of them seven. I said that’s enough. You can tell just by looking at them. I’ve been doing this 34 years. So I can tell when someone is getting burned out.”

That’s why Murphy is now filling-in, working on the line in the kitchen four nights a week.

“We haven’t had anyone come in an apply in I don’t know how long,” Murphy said. “Probably a month at least. Doesn’t seem to be any interest.”

Hawaii is one of 28 states still offering the federal government’s $300 weekly unemployment plus-up, which isn’t scheduled to expire until September 6.

“I think it’s played a bigger factor than the politicians will admit to,” Murphy said. “I think people have gotten used to not working or going to work.”

Staff are also making less money with seating capacity at a 50% maximum.

While that is scheduled to increase to 75% on July 8, the Hawaii Restaurant Association has said it’s not enough because tables must still be six feet apart.

“When you’re working and we’re only at 50% capacity basically so their salary drops.” Murphy said. “They have to pay for childcare and everything. It’s very difficult. It’s hard especially if it’s a single parent, which we’ve got a couple of.”

In April, the state Department of Human Services began expanding child care subsidies. For more information, click here.

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