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?