October Message from Chairman Greg Maples


As we start October, the overall feeling I have for this month is gratitude and hope.  I am so grateful for all the work that has been done in the last six months by so many.  One of the constant and consistent parts of the Hawaii Restaurant Association (HRA) over the past months has been Sheryl Matsuoka, our Executive Director and her team.  These folks are HRA warriors.  I am also grateful for those serving on the Executive Committee and especially the communications committee members  Sheryl Matsuoka, Tambara Garrick, Tom Jones , Victor Lim, Ryan Tanaka , Kahili Soon & Russell Ryan.  I would also like to express gratitude for Jason Higa, Denise Yamaguci and Ryan Tanaka.  Each member is making huge contributions to our industry here on the islands. To everyone with full time jobs who have given so much, thank you.

While we may not agree or even support everything that our Government leaders have done and are doing, one thing I have learned in this process is we have some incredible people working on the front lines in both State and City government.  Many have worked long hours, nights and weekends to help our industry.  They don’t often get the spotlight, but I can promise you there are some real heroes working on our behalf.  To all of them we tip our hat to show our gratitude.

With tourism now open, I feel hope for our food service industry.  I feel momentum building.  While there were last minute voices of discouragement for the opening, and even those who opposed the opening of the state, those voices came from fear.  I choose hope.  Hope in an industry that has endured much for decades and will endure this our toughest challenge.  I choose hope over fear.  I trust people to learn and do the right thing.

I have been in meetings where participants have said what we need is a vaccine.  Once the vaccine comes things will get back to normal and we should just wait for that time.

The vaccine, this nation, our state and city needs more than ever is the vaccination of fear. Our nation’s motto, “In God we trust”, beckons to our foundational souls to practice what we preach. Trusting Him and putting in the hard work to press forward will forever be the true remedy to any challenge we face. True leaders go forward amidst the crisis, not ‘wait it out’ until the crisis is over. The time is now to rediscover the divine courage innate in all of us. That courage would explain why we as Americans have run into danger, surmounting odds over and over as a country when the “science” would tell us to do otherwise.  At some point, we have to choose the valiant heart of humanity over the data.  The risks of exposure, death, and unhinged litigation have been thoughtfully measured. The protocols to do our best to reduce the spread are well known and understood. Hawai’i, like unto Lazarus, must “come forth” and start living life again.  No more red and blue, but the ‘red, white and blue’-one nation one people. It’s time to open up this great State. Open the schools. Open our restaurants. Open the businesses. Open our hearts. Show the world the greatness of our heart.  It’s time.


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