Two national chains opening in Hawaii offer more than just new choices

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — Two national chains are making a home in Hawaii and employing hundreds of residents.

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Experts say that the anticipation for the new businesses could help the economy and other local small businesses nearby as well.

Olive Garden will open its first Hawaii location at Ala Moana Center on Thursday, Oct. 29. Meanwhile, Target will also expand its reach in the state, announcing that it will open its first store on Kauai.

On Wednesday night, staff and customers got their first taste of what business will be like at the new Olive Garden in Ala Moana Center.

Workers did a run through to prepare for the grand opening on Thursday. The restaurant has already hired more than 120 staff.

“I’m gonna bank on 200 to 300, but we’ll see. I know there’s a lot of people. We have a lot of phone calls every day. A lot of people trying to come in right now even though we’re working on stuff,” said general manager Mark Taylor.

Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said that the excitement that new businesses bring can also help other businesses.

“The fear of missing out … [People] want to be the first to try it, and do a review and put it on their social media pages,” said Yamaki. “You’re going to get foot traffic that comes through there, you know, let’s go to Olive Garden. On the way, let’s stop by and buy the kids some clothes [or other items].”

Every sale that a business makes also means tax dollars for the state.

With Target coming to Kauai, it also means more choice for local residents. The new Target store will be opening at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center. The general manager, David Sosner, said that many people have been calling to find out more information.

“We know a lot of people have to go off island for specific purchases, and just to be able to have a large array of merchandise available here, I think will be very popular on the island.”

David Sosner, Kukui Grove Shopping Center General Manager.

The new store will be one-story and take up about 122,000 sq. ft.

An opening date has yet to be set.

“If all the stars align. We could see, you know, something coming together in a year or so. But there’s, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes,” said Sosner.

Yamaki said that Target and Olive Garden may not be the only new big-name businesses coming.

“We are hearing rumors of other national brands looking to come into Hawaii and actually looking at spots,” said Yamaki.

Olive Garden already has a second Hawaii restaurant already in the works. That’s scheduled to open at Ka Makana Alii in Kapolei in May 2021.

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