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Business Briefs

For Saturday, February 12, 2011

By Star-Advertiser Staff and News Services


Round Table Pizza files bankruptcy

CONCORD, Calif. » The California company that promises to serve "The Last Honest Pizza" is filing for bankruptcy.

Round Table Pizza Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday, but executives insist that it will not affect the pizza chain's 483 restaurants for now.

The Contra Costa Times (in California) reports that the company listed debts ranging from $10 million to $50 million. In court documents, the Concord-based company blamed its financial troubles on an expansion it launched just before the recession hit.

(On the chain's website, the company says the action will not affect Round Table's 148 franchisees that operate 355 independently owned Round Table Pizza restaurants on the West Coast. Round Table said it will close some unprofitable, company-owned restaurants but stressed that most of its company-owned locations and all of its franchised locations will remain open, with minimal impact on consumers.)

Executives say they will try to get concessions on rental rates from owners of its restaurant properties.

Round Table has restaurants and franchises in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. (Hawaii has three Round Table restaurants in Waikiki, one in Kailua and two on Maui, in Kihei and Kaanapali.)


Church excavations set to continue

Kawaiaha'o Church said it will begin excavating more ground that could contain unmarked burials next week, as part of resuming work to construct a $17.5 million multipurpose building on its property across from Honolulu Hale.

The work will be limited to exploratory excavation under a pilot program, and won't involve any use of heavy machinery, according to project manager Don Caindec.

Work could start as early as Monday.

Results of the exploratory work will be reviewed by the State Historic Preservation Division before any more intensive construction activity takes place, the church said.

Trenching work with heavy equipment about two years ago unearthed 69 sets of human remains believed to be from native Hawaiians buried in Christian fashion. Some native Hawaiians with ancestors buried in the area oppose further disinterments, though the church has state approval to proceed.


Maui Electric will buy wind power

Regulators have approved Maui Electric Co.'s plan to buy electricity from the second phase of First Wind's wind farm on a ridge above Maalaea. The expansion adds 21 megawatts of generating capacity to the 30 megawatts currently produced at the Kaheawa Wind Farm.

The structure of the power purchase agreement reduces the rate MECO pays for the electricity as the amount it buys increases. MECO did not disclose the actual price it will pay because it is in negotiations to buy power from another wind farm operator on the island.

With the expansion, the number of wind turbines at Kaheawa expands to 34 from 20. The second phase also includes a 10-megawatt battery storage system that will help smooth out fluctuations in output associated with wind power.


State woos Australia

A sales team led by the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau will be romancing meeting and event buyers from the Asia-Pacific region during the Asia-Pacific Incentive and Meetings Expo, Australia's largest trade show. During the event, which runs from Monday through Wednesday, marketers from Hawaii will have the opportunity to sell the islands to more than 2,000 meeting and event buyers.


On the Move

» International Business Machines Corp. has awarded $10,000 to professor Debasis Bhattacharya, a University of Hawaii Maui College faculty member in the applied business and information technology program. The grant will fund a project at UHMC that will transfer knowledge from a living laboratory on energy sustainability to a classroom course.

» Aston Hotels & Resorts has announced the following new hires:
Hal Nordblom as general manager of the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach. He was previously director of property services for Sky River Management of Honolulu.
Vishwas Bhatia as senior director of corporate revenue optimization. He was previously head of revenue management for Oberoi Group.
David Saito as assistant analyst of corporate operations. He has 20 years' experience in the hotel industry and was previously an assistant executive manager of resort operations for Ko Olina Beach Resort.

» The Queen's Medical Center has received a three-year, $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration to expand cancer care in rural areas on the neighbor islands. The grant allows Queen's to provide free services to cancer patients at rural hospitals on Maui, Molokai and the Big Island. Queen's said it serves 40 percent of all cancer patients in Hawaii.

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Gone, but not to Maui

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