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?


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

  1. Your Article about Closed Without Notice is very timely and informative, hopefully everyone will read it and follow your advice. During this Crisis due diligence could become an everyday occurrence to avoid any problems. Realizing the multitude of problems facing many businesses it needs to become an accepted and not a flash point of anger and dismay. Sometimes things are well beyond our control, accepting that isn’t always easy. Hopefully things shall improve in the coming months and year, many things need to fall in place at the same time for that to occur. Please keep us updated, it’s certainly appreciated. Thank You!

    1. Hi Ernie.

      Thanks for your input on this fast-changing phenomenon. And your 100 comments to date!


      1. BOH, has anyone bothered to investigate “why” the labor force is so lacking after covid? I would wager that Government hand outs are at the root of the problem. Or it is something even more devious that is playing out behind the scenes? Maybe even money being used to keep the work force at home. These are things worth investigating. Something is not right with this scenario. Being that you are well informed about all things Hawaii, I hope you can dig a little further into this. Thanks.

        1. Hi Ed.

          Thanks. We’ll report back on anything more we find out. What we’ve been hearing is mostly just that they’re short-staffed at this point, without any more details. Prior wait staff we know, who by the way did well financially before, just decided that they’d had enough. Collected unemployment as long as possible, and now, who knows what they’re doing.


        2. As the saying goes, if you’re looking for a conspiracy you’re gonna find one. Perhaps someone is paying everyone to stay home so you can’t get your favorite coffee, nefarious.

        3. Hi Ed! Another idea is that people were fed up with low wages, no vacation, lack of health insurance, and other things that became more important than ever during the pandemic and are now finding other ways to make money. It’s not unique to Hawaii, I’ve heard this is happening around the entire US.

  2. Aloha… on Maui two restaurants I’ve been going to multiple times yearly have closed much to my disappointment.
    Gerard’s on Lahainaluna in Lahaina and
    5 Palms on So. Kihei Rd. In Kihei
    Honu Seafood and Pizza on Front Street in Lahaina has changed owners and their name… now Honu Oceanside. The menu has changed a little but the food is still excellent!

  3. I have been commenting about this since the start of the pandemic. It makes me sound anti-tourist, but the reality is Hawaii can’t properly staff the islands, but continue to take bookings. Eventually the world will open up and people will remember the less than perfect experience they had in Hawaii and will book elsewhere.

    Again, Mahalo for the article

    1. Kelly, we reside in Florida and have the same issues that everyone else has but we don’t have very many problems as far as staffing in most Restaurants are concerned. It is high time Hawaiian’s take a good hard look at their Government (both State and Local) and start demanding that the Government freebies be cut off! Force the entitled, lazy, individuals, to either get a job, or starve!

      1. Ed, in Florida you also have an economy that doesn’t totally depend on tourism. Many service people here moved up the ladder leaving many service positions unfilled. It is also much cheaper to live in Florida, but then you would have to live in Florida. Housing compared to Florida is off the charts.
        Gallon of milk here in Kona at costco +/- $5 a gallon. Or a gallon of OJ for $5 at Walmart. Compared to $2.88 at Piggly Wiggly.

        We also live 2500 miles from the nearest landmass. You comparison does not work here.

        Spoken like a true Floridian.

        1. Works as good as it does anywhere. You are wrong, the biggest industry in Florida is the Hospitality Industry. Yes, there are other industries in Florida but there are other industries in Hawaii, as well. The Coffee industry is big in Hawaii and also places like Dole. Your rates of pay are much higher in your version of the Hospitality Industry, than they are in Florida. But regardless of the differences, where are the workers in Hawaii? No one on here, can tell me, with any certainty, where they are. Just saying they left for the Mainland, does not make it so!

          1. And just saying people are sitting around taking money from the government doesn’t make it so, Ed.

      2. Hi Ed! If you continue to have that attitude, please stay in Florida. Suggesting that people are lazy and should be allowed to starve is a horrible thing to say and not the kind of aloha we have here. Take care!

        1. This is still the United States of America and I will travel where I please, when I please. I said nothing bad about the Islands but I am questioning why there are no one to fill the jobs there. We have visited Hawaii many times and absolutely love it there.

  4. When Paradise becomes Hostile to Itself? The loss of workers in Hawaii and across America is proving to be extremely problematic to everyone, businesses and customers alike. According to CDC Statistics there are Plenty of younger people to keep the country running, where are they and Why aren’t they working? They demanded Higher Wages and its occurred, not taking the jobs has become Absurd! Lack of true Leadership seems to be the problem. Supply chain issues may also be at Least partially to blame on lack of Workforce Participation, a Sad Time for America 🇺🇸 because they Lack Work Ethics!

    1. Hello Ernie S., the 2 down votes you received to this point are probably from 2 lazy individuals that are on the government dole and refuse to work!

  5. Sad! Dark Horse was a nice spot to meet the two of you in January for “business” 😉. A bit of an unassuming location and lots of competition, but we love patronizing locals. We also loved the Emperor’s Emporium for our souvenirs and wearables.

  6. Good to know Little Fish Coffee is still in business. We stay at Kiahuna Plantation across the street, and I like to walk over to Little Fish for a mocha and one of their excellent bagel sandwiches. Their smoothies are excellent as well. It’s popular, with lines 20 deep not uncommon, so get there early.

  7. On our recent trip, one restaurant where we had made dinner reservations sent us a notice two days ahead that they would only be offering a limited menu due to staffing issues, which made us suspect it was likely a kitchen staff shortage. We decided they were still offering enough choices to keep our reservation.

    We were pleasantly surprised when we got there to find they were offering the entire menu after all. Our server said they were able to bring in enough staff to cover their regular menu that night, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they were facing this situation every day. I can’t even imagine how hard it is to run a business with those challenges, and all on top of what they’ve already had to deal with during the pandemic.

  8. And this question, I’m sure, will continue to be asked. Where have all the workers gone that were working pre-covid? This sorts of issue weren’t around then were they?

    1. Too expensive and difficult to secure housing. Lots of people are moving off island and many of the folks moving in have cozy remote jobs.

    2. I believe a lot of people had to move back to the mainland due to the islands basically being closed down during the worst of the pandemic. You don’t get those folks back easily, unfortunately.

    3. Patrick, to see that you even received one down vote for expressing what is an obvious truth, just shows how badly those that are refusing to work are. Just keep spreading the truth and those of us that appreciate the truth, will be grateful for you and those like you.

  9. We have definitely been experiencing this on Kauai ever since Covid. Try to find a place for lunch in Hanalei on a Thursday! Even the food trucks have been closed of late. Also, it’s impossible to get into most restaurants without a reservation made days in advance, if not more, for dinner. The island is really suffering from the labor shortage and you have to take pity on the people working long hours in overwhelming conditions. I don’t know where it will end.

  10. A lack of people to work is a problem everywhere it seems. The Government needs to cut off those that are able to work and just refuse to do so. Does anyone know if Hawaii is still compensating people because of covid? If so, write to your Representatives and tell them it is time to cut off the welfare programs and get those that are “able bodied” back to work!

    1. The one “down vote” I just received was most likely from one of the very people my comment above was about!

      1. Hi Ed! I’ve been downvoting you, but be assured I have a full time job. Stop assuming the worst of people and instead offer some grace after what has been a very difficult couple of years for everyone.

        1. Of course you have! Why have you been down voting me? Can’t handle the truth? Can’t take a perspective, other than your own? I wear your down votes like a badge of courage.

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