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Ward Centre restaurant closes after 8 months

By Erika Engle

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:27 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011



Pablo's Mexican Cantina has closed after eight months of operation at Ward Centre.

It had succeeded Compadres Bar & Grill, which had occupied the space for 24 years until 2008.

The closing June 9 was "unfortunate, it was sudden," said Diane Bruce, Ward Centers spokeswoman. "They were just not meeting their expectations with the lease — they had to close." The number of employees left without work could not be determined.

Bruce declined to say whether the restaurant was behind on its lease or whether the decision to close was made by Pablo's officials or Ward Centers owner Howard Hughes Corp. "Any other lease discussions are between the merchant and us," she said. The space includes 5,360 square feet under roof and a 1,000-square-foot lanai.

The owners also run a chain of Auld Dubliner Irish pubs on the mainland and initially planned to open the restaurant as Pablo McGinty's Mexican Cantina, a Mexican-restaurant-Irish-pub fusion concept it later decided against.

The restaurant finally opened in October, staging benefit fundraisers for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Catholic Charities Hawaii and the Hawaii Polo Club in its first weeks.

Principal owner Steve Hamile, born in Hawaii, created the restaurant concept with his wife and got it going, but he left the company in late December, he told "TheBuzz." The restaurant was started "in partnership with three others, and they were moving the company … in another direction and wanted control," so he stepped down and has since co-founded a sales and marketing company called AdPlayerz.

Hamile was "not really familiar with everything that's transpired," he said. Remaining partner Tony Simons told him it was "the economy, and the timing was just not good in that location." Parent company Honolulu Restaurant Holdings LLC, based in Nevada, had been planning multiple locations of Pablo's before the Ward opening last year but is not off to a good start. Still, Hamile said the partnership "is a very good, strong group of individuals. There's just a lot of different things going on in the economy and in locations that have taken their attention outside of Hawaii. Perhaps that caused the issues," he said.

Pet's Discount files bankruptcy

The parent company of the now-closed Pet's Discount Warehouse and Pet's Central has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation, as have its principals, Daniel A. McDougal and Dirk C. Budd.

M&B Pets Inc., parent company of sister retailers Pet's Discount and Pet's Central, listed assets of $1.1 million and debts of $3.2 million. Its more than 100 creditors include Kamehameha Schools, which owns the leasehold interest under the building M&B owns on Malaai Street.

The company had about 15 employees, all but three or four of whom were left without jobs when the store closed earlier this month. A handful of employees got jobs with a new venture, Pet Hale, opening today in Waikele Center.

Pet's Discount President McDougal listed assets of $959,746 and debts of $3.1 million, while Vice President Budd listed assets of $968,571 and debts of $3.4 million. Individual filings by McDougal and Budd show each made a $167,496 loan to M&B Pets.

The chain had six locations but began closing stores late last year, beginning in Market City. Others in Hawaii Kai, Kaneohe, Waikele Center and on Nimitz Highway followed.

The Salt Lake location had been a store within a store.

It is possible that economic issues and changing societal attitudes took their toll on the business, observed Mark Ambard, a commercial real estate broker who had done business with M&B.

"Competition from big boxes and social attitudes about animals and where you get them may have had something to do with it."

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Advertiser. Reach her by email at erika@staradvertiser.com.






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