Hawaii “Closed Without Notice” Signs Include Guy Fieri Find

Prior to COVID, the joke on Hawaii business signs was “closed for luaus, big surf, no like work.” Now, however, closed signs are seen more and more, and a case in point today. Hawaii businesses are reducing hours or closing entirely, either temporarily or permanently, like a popular restaurant below featured on “Diners, Drive-In and Dives.” It’s all because of limited staffing and mushrooming costs.

This problem hit home today when your Beat of Hawaii editors ran into a similar issue at Dark Horse Coffee in Koloa. A planned business meeting there had to be moved because the coffee shop was closed with no signage to be found anywhere.

Even before leaving we first cautiously checked the hours on their website (which were wrong and not updated). Then we went to their Facebook page to check for anything more current. Facebook had listed new reduced hours that weren’t on the website at all. But in the end, neither was right, and it turned out they were closed when we got there at 11:00 AM. We have tips on what to do in today’s post in order to avoid a similar situation.

This is happening repeatedly.

If this was the first time, we wouldn’t even give it much thought, much less would we have reported on it. But it’s happened on multiple occasions even in just the past few weeks. We noticed it as well at Starbucks, where a handmade sign on the door was the only indication of a sudden reduction in hours. Part of the issue here on the outer islands is that we have a workforce that’s not big in numbers, and since we are on an island, we can’t draw people easily from other locations. And that’s just the beginning of the issues.

Short-staffed restaurants, coffee shops, and other venues in Hawaii.

1. Businesses are abruptly changing hours due to a lack of staffing. And just when we thought this was mostly about flights to Hawaii having pilot and other shortages.

2. Hours are changing without notice. Restaurants are either not opening at all or are reducing hours. That can mean eliminating lunch, for example, or closing early due to the inability to hire and retain staff.

3. Empty tables don’t mean a lack of customers. Restaurants aren’t always able to have full seating any longer. It is becoming customary to allow fewer guests than capacity would indicate since there aren’t enough people to service those extra tables.

Could no staff and skyrocketing costs shutter Hawaii restaurants permanently?

We just don’t know where this is going to end. You may have heard that an iconic Hawaii eatery once featured by Guy Fieri is closing permanently this week due to these very issues.

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives find closes.

Dean’s Drive Inn in Kaneohe is going out of business after 16 years. There, soaring prices were the primary cause for closure, together with staffing. The owner said that “the rising cost of food and supplies has made it impossible to stay in business.” The local and casual eatery was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” several years ago and we recall their ahi fish cakes being featured.

Even before they could close permanently, other issues hit the iconic restaurant just this past weekend. They closed suddenly without notice, posting on Facebook, “We ran out of food today and there won’t be any deliveries tomorrow to get our food products because of the holiday.”

Here’s what we suggest doing.

1. Check the website before heading out.

2. Go to their Facebook page for more current hours and information.

3. Pick up the phone and call before going to see what the circumstances are today. That was where we fell short.

4. Have a backup plan or place to meet. In today’s case, the backup was Little Fish Coffee in Poipu.

5. Relax more, go with the flow. It’s your vacation and you are on island time.

Have you experienced the same in Hawaii?


113 thoughts on “Hawaii “Closed Without Notice” Signs Include Guy Fieri Find”

  1. I think the truth is getting pretty obvious, because of an inept government Hawaii is getting worse and worse…if you want to save her, elect new people who understand the complexities and don’t just spout what people want to hear.

  2. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!!!

    Please continue to draw attention to this problem. Your comment “Where does it end” is exactly what we keep asking ourselves daily as we all get closer and closer to throwing in the towel as well. We own Menehune Coffee Company in Kona and are obviously faced with all of the same issues you mentioned.

    If something doesn’t change soon, we fear that only the larger companies will be able to hang on while all of your small family owned/operated, unique, local companies will be a thing of the past.

    Please continue to keep this going. Urge all affected businesses to write letters to the State. What happened to the restaurant revitalization funds that were approved but never distributed?

    Thank you again

  3. Nick A, it’s that Foreign and Mainland Investment in Property that should have been forced to become an equitable partner in low cost and low rent quality housing for those in need. Instead too much development occurred without that stipulation, just recently it has begun its infancy. The Blame sits with State and County Government that didn’t require this from the beginning. Housing Starts Employ Construction Tradesmen, local jobs, that benefit many others along the way. Assign the Blame where it belongs, the Governor’s Mansion and County Governments.

  4. This is what happens when you allow foreign and mainland investors to buy up whatever they like in Hawaii and convert it to short term rentals. There is limited to almost no long term housing for the folks who serve you and what is available too $$$ for the working class. Not to mention, it is incredibly stressful working in a constantly short staffed restaurant/ bar as well as catering to entitled and impatient guests, so there is a mass exodus out of hospitality.

    1. Nick A – I agree with you about the big $$ investors. Hopefully, the State of Hawaii will wake up and make corrections soon (although I doubt it as $$ money has more influence). We always enjoyed visiting the “mom and pop” places so it is sad to learn that so many are closing. I want to add that this is also what you get when you make it well-known that visitors are no longer welcome.

  5. I just got back. The hostess said the wait was 30 minutes it surprised me because there was no one around. She took offense and asked if I would like to wait longer. Rude, didn’t attempt to explain. This is a so called fine dining restaurant.

  6. Went to celebrate my 66 birthday @ Henry’s in Mapunapuna. Called before going & recorded message stating hours open. When we got there a sign telling us they were permanently closed. So disappointed.

  7. The inbred/hybrid destroyed work and food on this planet and the restaurants should be shut down. The work should all shift to rebuilding healthy soil systems…

  8. Hi Phil L, I really like your comments, seriously you should run for office. If you were to get elected maybe you could convince people that this is the correct way to go. Using the viable farming lands may not be enough to sustain the entire population of all of the individual islands,however,combining the output of all probably could, not including Tourists. Your idea of loosening regulations is a Great one but give strokes to certain people. Over regulation often is the cause of many excellent ideas never happening, much of them are unneeded to begin with. Keep those ideas coming, they’re needed!

  9. Yes, indeed! We love the crispy chicken wings at Rainbow Cafe in Kapaau, Big Island, but found a note on the door that said they’re on vacation for two weeks yet did not include dates. They have not reopened and it’s been over a month – web site does not reflect their current status.
    Sad, it appears another little local place has gone under.

  10. Hi J T, what you’re describing with PAL sounds like the program that I described just moments ago. Construction Firms make very little money building low income housing. They must build a certain amount of that type of housing for every so many higher priced houses/Condos. The benefit is getting a good builder at more Reasonable Costs,it’s a win/win for everyone in the long run. I hope that this may help you to understand what is probably happening. Have a good day!

  11. Hi Phil L, rents,never mind real estate as a whole, is tragically high and out of reach for many. I remember that some places on the mainland refused to issue building permits for a while because of a lack of affordable rental units and other housing. Builder’s were forced to build certain amount of affordable and low income for a certain amount of higher cost housing. It worked quite well for a while, Don’t know if it still exists. Hawaii should be doing something similar, can you imagine how much there would be just from Resort and Time Share Construction! Ask Your Politicians why this Isn’t being Required, interested in the answers that you receive. Has to happen, for the People who live in Hawaii.

    1. From what I’ve read it’s not just the US. Many countries, worldwide, are experiencing the same issues.

  12. I have read your blog. You have given good information. Hardees has been around since 1961, and it has grown into one of the biggest hamburger chains in the country. The menu at Hardee’s is always changing to keep up with customers’ tastes. Today we’re going to talk about all the delicious items on their menu that you can’t resist!

  13. Thank you for a very interesting article. We were on Kauai in May & found many places closed. But did not deter us from finding other places & enjoying the beautiful island.

  14. I workat a bike shop on maui and I’ve had multiple costumers coming in for bike boxes to ship their s back to the main land because they can’t find affordable housing or housing at all!

  15. It’s not just Hawaii. We ate dinner at the mall last week and a lot of the stores had closed at 7 on a Thursday night. One of our favorite mom and pop restaurants had to close on Mondays because of lack of help. I just don’t understand where the unemployed are getting their money from now and why they’re not going back to work. We are in Indianapolis.

    1. You expect a mall to be bustling? If you chose to eat at a mall, don’t act shocked so many places are closed or have reduced hours; malls have been dying for 20 years.

    2. My son was in the restaurant business for years. Many of his former colleagues took the time they had during covid to make permanent changes to their professional lives. They’ve moved on to better paying, more fulfilling careers. It seems the time they were forced to take off gave them time to revaluate a lot of things. These are educated people who thought they wanted to work in the restaurant business and have since changed their mind.

  16. Yes you are exactly right about everything you said. I live on Kauai for 33yrs now and the prices are definitely hurting the people who live on Kauai and yes all the businesses are short staffed. The reason why all businesses are short staffed is because people either found a different job somewhere else and mostly it’s because people are making more money on unemployment I’ve seen numerous businesses close for good. Everyone that’s lives on Kauai are suffering the most because of the rise in prices everywhere you go on Kauai. The pandemic ruined Kauai deeply. Everything you said is the truth. It’s sad seeing our island Kauai suffering so much. I understand visitors pay a lot of money to come to Kauai. Thank you for visiting kauai.

    1. I love Kauai and will continue to come no matter what! Hang in there, I am sure things will get better.

  17. How come I’m not surprised by this mess. Since the onset of billionaires on Kauai we have seen a dramatic shift on the N.S. Rentals are easily double of just 6 months ago. If there is not enough workforce housing there won’t be enough employees. We should be mindful of developers like PAL (Permanent affordable living) who claim they are making affordable homes when 1/2 of them are for profit. I predict more businesses closing and that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

    1. Several extended family members (including daughter and grand sons) now have a covid strain. Even in San Diego CA; the doctors here at the hospital have informed my daughter that this covid strain is very serious and extremly contagious and to tell everyone to wear a face mask inside stores and public areas.

      This lastest strain is very serious.

  18. My only comment is I wish more people would be focused on the positive aspects of life in Hawaii. We move towards what we focus on in life. I realize that you are just reporting what you see, possibly in the future we could report more on the positive. Either way thank you for your contribution

  19. I left Hawaii last month, it’s just not worth it anymore. Costs out of control and government and schools a total mess. Warm weather and beaches can only provide so much happiness, Much better on mainland after 10 years away and surprisingly I realized customer service and food quality/choices make up for any exotic part of what’s in hawaii. Government actually works here too, somewhat 😉


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