HONOLULU (KHON2) — The old original Buzz’s Original Steak House in Pearl City has been sitting idle since it closed down in 2018.
Local comedian Rodney Villanueva is on the brink of opening a new venue there. He has all of the equipment but doesn’t have any of the workers.
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With tables from Like Like Drive-In, chairs from Kakaako Kitchen and a receptionist stand from Alan Wong’s, Celebrahtee’s is a nostalgic run down restaurant of Hawaii’s past with a warm and old-school Hawaiian flavor. Many of those restaurants closed during the pandemic.
In October 2020, friends thought Villanueva was joking when he told them he was jumping into the restaurant business while other stalwarts failed.
“I was already ready to get the key for this location, and everybody was thinking, ‘You’re crazy! You’re going to open a restaurant when everybody else is closing.’ I said, ‘Well, for everyone that closes these people gotta find a place to go eat,'” Villanueva said.
After buying low, he pulled off getting the place ready, remodeling the former Buzz’s to a unique aloha experience, complete with a stage for live Hawaiian music, a piano, even a sushi bar.
What he couldn’t fill was his staff.
“I can open up at anytime,” Villanueva said. “I’m ready. It’s been sitting like this for the longest time, but I just need COVID vaccinated people, and all the way from the chefs down to the dish washer.”
He says he lost eight employees due to Honolulu’s vaccine mandate. Villanueva now needs 50 employees to open for lunch and dinner, but he still wants good workers.
“If the surf is up, they gonna come work on the third day, all red, and they gonna say they were sick, no, they sunburned, they went surf. I looking for mature people that have responsibility,” Villanueva joked.
He’s now been waiting for five months, keeping the dining room ready.
“Open or closed, I’m still paying rent,” he said.
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Right outside of one of Hawaii’s busiest intersections, Rodney hung a 28-foot banner saying he’s hiring, asking for professional help. Unfortunately, so far there are no bites, but if you’d like to apply, head on down to the old Buzz’s in Pearl City and knock on the door. You may also email email@example.com.