A new year brings changes at the state’s largest mall Ala Moana Center. Several familiar tenants will be closing because of high rent.
Last week we told you that Bubba Gump Shrimp Company and Mai Tai Bar will not be renewing their leases. In a statement, Chief Operations Officer of Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Jim DuFault said:
“Due to the landlord’s ridiculous demand substantially raising our rent, Mai Tai Bar and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. located in Ala Moana Center will cease operations February 23, 2020. We value our employees, their dedication to our company and are working to relocate them to our sister properties in Honolulu and Maui. Moreover, we are now cautioning both the landlord or any subsequent tenant that if they steal our Mai Tai intellectual property, they will both be met with a substantial lawsuit.”
Those two places are not the only businesses leaving. After more than 50 years, Thom’s Barber Shop will be leaving Ala Moana Center to a new location on Kona Street. Its last day will be on January 26th.
The day before that, California Wok will also say goodbye to its customers for good. Owner Winnie Lee says the restaurant has been here for 18 years, but being a tenant at Ala Moana Center has gotten too costly and she hasn’t seen the same foot traffic as before.
“The basic rent not that much expensive but many different kinds of fees always we have to spend,” said Lee. “I will miss my customers. Even outside of the state, people come back a couple of years later they still come back to my store.”
Tina Yamaki of Retail Merchants of Hawaii tells us it’s not just at Ala Moana Center where tenants are packing up and leaving but at other shopping locations as well.
“A lot of times rent goes up like anything else because of the higher cost of living here in Hawaii. Your utilities go up, your water goes up, all of that is going to be paid on to the customer and in the shopping mall’s case the customers are the tenants,” said Yamaki.
While businesses are closing, we found Olive Garden filed for a permit to do work where Mai Tai Bar is now.