Waikiki restaurants depend on locals to dine


People on Oahu can begin making dinner reservations for this weekend with many restaurants planning to reopen for dine-in, but without the usual tourists in Waikiki, some businesses are relying on locals to visit.

The moving of tables at least six-feet apart is underway at many eateries in Honolulu preparing for Friday when customers can go back inside to dine.

The Island Vintage Coffee, Manager, Roger Tanabe, said they usually deal with long lines of tourists waiting to be seated, but they will have to reopen without the large crowd of visitors on Friday.

Tanabe said, “Our zip code 96815, we have about 28,000 residents living in that zip code so we have to depend on them.”

He said locals have helped by ordering take-out but now they invite them in person. The Royal Hawaiian Center is offering three-hour complimentary parking with any purchase.

The owner of former Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand, Jack Law, said they are changing the nightlife entertainment experience for customers to focus more on evening dine-in. They also decided to rebrand and changed the name of the business to Hula’s Beach Bites.

Law said, “Their main thing would be to get a drink and food would be additional, now food is the main thing and there are tables on the dance floor.”

He said the change in business model was made out of necessity, bars and other nightlife locations have no date to reopen due to the pandemic.

He said his next chapter will be an experiment and somewhat of a gamble.

Law said, “Frankly we can’t wait any longer, the money is going to be gone, it’s either we do this or we close permanently, that is the choice we have.”

The City and County of Honolulu released a series of guidelines for restaurants to follow when they reopen.

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