Chairman’s Message

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It is hard to remember the worries of yesterday given what we’ve experienced over the past 10 months. Even now, it seems unthinkable that my message to you would be during one of the worst health crises in modern history. Without any doubt 2020 has been the most challenging year we have ever faced as an industry. Hawaii restaurant owners and operators have had it even tougher with two complete lockdowns, strict guidelines and no tourism. The Hawaii Restaurant Association has worked very hard to be there every step of the way for all restaurant owners and operators in our community by providing resources, guidance, and crucial advocacy.

With unparalleled levels of engagement from restaurants and the HRA their collective voices have been heard at the local, state, and federal levels. Restaurants have stepped up to lend a helping hand to those in need like never before. Owners and Operators have pivoted their business models and gone to incredible lengths to keep their team members and customers safe. The Hawaii restaurant community has proven its resiliency and solidarity over and over. I am proud to be associated with such incredible people.

I recognize, of course, as all of you do, that we are nowhere near where we need to be as an industry. Restaurants have lost tens of thousands of employees and millions of dollars in sales and profits. These losses echo through the entire supply chain. I have repeatedly said without more direct help from our Federal, State and Local governments we should expect a minimum of 40% of restaurants to never reopen. With that we lose part of the very fabric of our food culture. The HRA team and I fully recognize the grave situation facing restaurants, bars, caterers, suppliers, and all hospitality businesses. The latest action from Congress is a step in the right direction for restaurants, but much more help is needed. We will remain vigilant in our push for additional financial support for your businesses in 2021.


Our challenges remain plentiful. At present, the hospitality industry is being portrayed nationally as a hindrance to public health. Many states have reinstated shutdowns, and the combination of public trepidation and health impositions make profitability a distant aspiration for many of our owners and operators. Yet Hawaii is also emerging as a model for a nation that continues to grapple with best practices. Our collaboration between public health, elected officials, and industry leaders has proven effective.


We continue to be 100% focused on providing you with the resources you need to survive now and to thrive in the future. Whether that is through legislative calls to action, webinars we host, guidelines, reopening networks, training, best practices and more- we are here to serve.


We could not accomplish all our work without the support of our members, Board of Directors and all our corporate sponsors, who stepped up to support us through this extremely difficult time. Thank you to all who have stood with us.


A special thanks to Sheryl Matsuoka. Sheryl and her team have worked tirelessly. She has been the constant voice of support, ideas, motivation and the person who is personally answering hundreds of calls sometimes daily. Make no mistake she is the backbone of the HRA. My heartfelt appreciation goes to this incredibly capable woman.


I pride myself on being a happy glass half full kind of guy. I still believe that our glass is half full and I remain eternally happy.  However, we have work to do, a lot of work. This year will be different from 2020.  Last year 2020 managed us, in 2021 we will manage the year.  We have paid the price for our voices to be heard and for our industry to be at the table when decisions are being made.  I am confident we will prevail in the end.


I leave you with a Poem that was shared with me. I wish the choicest of blessings upon all of us in this new year.


For now, the birds will sing the songs of Polynesia,

For now, the salt winds will fill the parking lot,

For now, the trade winds will carry the chants of the islands,

For now, the flame will be extinguished,

For now, only echoes will fill each seat,

For now, the lagoon will recede,

For now, the waterfalls will not flow,

For now, the volcano will lay dormant,

For now, doors will be closed,

For now, we will stay diligent, and pray often,

Because we know that,

For now, is not FOREVER.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”20785″ img_size=”medium”][/vc_column][/vc_row]


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