When COVID-19 reached Hawaii, restaurants like Cafe Maharani took a major hit.

“When we started doing take out, it was pretty scary. We didn’t know what to do or how to survive. Sales were down I would say about 40-50%,” said co-owner of Cafe Maharani Chris Rahman.

Cafe Maharani has been in business for 20 years. Rahman said switching to take-out only was tough.

“People on the phone take a long time. When people don’t get connected, they get really irritated that they cannot get in touch,” Rahman said about the problem with not having online ordering as an option.

Seeing the issue restaurants like Cafe Maharani faced, Francis Tulu, the CEO of CompuTant, a point of sales company, decided to help out local eateries.

“What if we set up an online ordering system for you at no cost for six months?” Tulu said. “The first thing we did is we started with my brother’s restaurant [Cafe Maharani].”

CompuTant installs online ordering for restaurants, but now it is offering the service for free to any Hawaii restaurant for the next six months.

“Sales went up pretty good. We are doing I would say close to 80-90% what our business actually was,” Rahman said about the benefit of online ordering.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association encourages all restaurants to take advantage of the offer and implement online ordering during the pandemic.

“It’s hoping that we’ll be able to increase their sales to the restaurant. Everybody is on apps today right? So everybody is using apps to order their food. It’s so much quicker. You just swing by and pick it up,” Sheryl Matsuoka, the Executive Director of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

Cafe Maharani plans on keeping the online ordering option for the foreseeable future.