Dine-in service officially restarted inside Oahu restaurants but in the latest survey of the industry, 80% of restaurant operators said it is unlikely their business will be profitable within the next six months.

The Hawaii Restaurant Economic Survey said 97% of restaurants had to lay-off or furlough employees, and on average these restaurants laid-off 81% of its total staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.

Some restaurants decided to remain open for take-out, but these businesses reported a 79% loss in sales compared to last May.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association, Chairman, Tom Jones, said it will likely take longer than six months for restaurants to begin seeing profits.

“We’re hopeful that within the next two to three weeks our sales go up to 60 maybe 70% of last year, and eventually go to 100%,” Jones said. “But my estimate is that it’s going to be well into 2021 before we get to 2019 levels and it might even be 2022.” 

The survey also found 39% of restaurant employees who were laid-off or furloughed have returned to work.