The New Normal: Restaurants going above and beyond to keep customers safe


If you prefer to eat out on the 4th of July, many restaurants will be open. However, if you haven’t been to one lately, all the changes might surprise you.

Many of the changes at dine-in restaurants are mandatory, but some local restaurants are going above and beyond to put their guests at ease in this “new normal.”

Arancino in Waikiki has made safety in this COVID-19 era its top priority. The restaurant even offers customers personal bags to place their masks in, so it never has to touch the table.

That’s just part of the process that begins even before customers take a seat.

“For a table, before it used to take us maybe a minute to reset. Now it takes us literally about 5 to 6 minutes to clean it,” said Byran Kina, the Strategic Initiative Director for Arancino.

The restaurant sanitizes and wipes down both the tables and chairs twice before the next guest.

While some might think that’s excessive, at Arancino it’s just one of the new high standards it has put in place to help keep their customers safe.

They aren’t the only restaurant going above and beyond.

At Gyu-Kaku Kalihi cleanliness is key.

“As I’ve seen from your reports, the numbers are going back up, so even more so, we have to keep being as safe as we can,” said CEO of Gyu-Kaku Kalihi, Rick Nakashima.

All of his employees at each of his restaurants wear gloves and masks. They also have hand sanitizing stations for customers to use inside the businesses.

At both Gyu-Kaku Kalihi and Arancino, you’ll have to pass a temperature check and answer a series of questions before being seated.

“Have you been sick? Have you traveled? Anybody in your family been sick or traveled? We take your temperature, and we ask that you keep the masks on until you sit down,” said Nakashima about the restaurant’s protocols.

By law, all restaurants in the state have had to cut down on seating to allow for social distancing.

“We took out 50% of our patio seating. We also took out about 70% of our inside seating,” said Kina.

While the restaurants may look empty due to blocked off tables, they’re hoping unique safety measures and excellent service will make up the difference.

For example, customers can opt to access a digital menu through their phone, and even use their phone to pay. No need pass cash or sign paper receipts.

If you prefer credit card, Arancino will sanitize it for you.

If you need a drink refill, both restaurants will bring you an entirely new glass.

At Gyu-Kaku, sauces are now in individual containers.

“So we’re really trying to create a completely safe environment. All of our restaurants have never been cleaner,” said Nakashima.

You’ll also notice every worker is wearing a mask, some even wear face shields.

For those who enjoy the company of smiling servers, it’s a big change. But, Arancino is trying to work around that by adding badges with employee’s pictures to let guests know who is behind the mask.

“We just wanted to add a personal touch to what we do. We want to show smiling faces. We’re not grouchy. We’re not scared of you. We want to invite you. We want to take care of you and that’s what we want to do,” said Kina.

All the new safety protocols at local restaurants add up.

“It is a cost, but it’s kind of the norm now. You can’t get away with it. I think I myself personally a night use about a box of gloves by myself,” Kina said about their glove usage policy.

Both Gyu-Kaku Kalihi and Arancino hope the local community will come support them through these difficult times.


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