Here in Hawaii, so much of our culture involves food, but right now many restaurants say they’re struggling.

A local restaurant owner is launching a campaign in hopes of helping all local restaurants and businesses, by reaching out to you.

“Be vocal, support local” is the call to action that Thomas Ray is putting out to fellow independent local businesses to let the people of Hawaii know that they need support to stay in operation.

“In order for us to survive we need continued support from local people, local residents or else it’s going to collapse, unfortunately,” Ray said.

Ray owns both Square Barrels located in downtown Honolulu and Heiho House, which is currently being constructed in Kaimuki.

For him, this movement is more than just money, it’s about preserving a comfort. In 2017, his daughter died before she was born. When his son came along, he went to Kimchee Restaurant 2 in Kaimuki to calm his nerves.

“I was like I have to have Kim Chee II right now because I was under so much pressure and anxiety and I don’t want this pregnancy to go the same as our last one. That’s why I chose Kim Chee II because of that emotional connection that I have to food to make me feel like I’m going to be safe.”

Now he’s hoping that through this movement, others will find that special memory and connection with a local restaurant and help them in their time of need. For most, making sales right now is their only way to stay in business.

“Large companies have access to capitol at very cheap rates,” Ray said.

“They have clout to argue with their landlords, to extend the situation and benefit where they can drop their prices and squeeze everyone else.”

Moke’s Bread & Breakfast, which has locations in in Kailua and Kaimuki, is set to reopen its dining rooms this Friday. It is trying to find a fair way forward dealing with some of the added costs to keep customers safe.

“We’re biting the bullet with some of it. Some of it is going to be passed along to the guest,” Brand Manager Keola Warren said.

“There has to be a partnership where everyone is going to pay a little bit more to enjoy the luxuries but we know that in the long run it will be worth it.”

As consumers in Hawaii’s economy start to spend again, what stays afloat is their choice.

“If there is a business or two that you really like and support please go out and show them some love, spend some money there,” Warren said.

If you want to be part of the “Be vocal, support local” movement all you have to do is share a picture of you supporting a local business with the hash tag #SaveHawaiiBusinesses

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