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Former Sizzler restaurants close on Oahu

By Andrew Gomes

LAST UPDATED: 02:41 p.m. HST, Aug 01, 2013

Goko Steak and Salad Bar in Kalihi offers a diverse salad bar with two full bar options and dessert on Friday.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Photo by Krystle Marcellus

The owner of Hawaii’s four former Sizzler restaurants abruptly ceased operations Wednesday, abandoning an effort to reorganize its debts in bankruptcy.

GoKo Restaurant Enterprises LLC said in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing Wednesday that it was unable to pay its rent for June and July, so the decision was made to close the restaurants.

About 120 employees are impacted by the shutdown of the restaurants in Kailua, Aiea, Kapalama and Waipahu.

GoKo, which renamed the Sizzler restaurants GoKo Steak & Salad Bar Restaurant in May to settle a dispute with franchisor Sizzler USA, intends to sell its assets and convert the Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization into a Chapter 7 liquidation.

GoKo was formed in 2003 by one-time Sizzler manager Clinton Goo and real estate developer Bert A. Kobayashi. The pair partnered to buy the four restaurants from the local Sallee family who established the chain in Hawaii in 1964, six years after the first Sizzler was founded in California.

The company led by Goo filed for bankruptcy in April after being unable to meet financial obligations — trouble the company said stemmed from a downturn in consumer spending during the past recession.

Goo anticipated that a strengthening economy, reduced debt payments to a lender and the possible rejection or sale of store leases would allow the company — with past annual sales of more than $6 million — to return to profitability.

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allie wrote:
sad..not sure they kept up with changing tastes though. But yes, Hawaii is a disastrous place to do business. Legislature will drive all out of business and hope to be bailed out by the Feds. They won't be.
on August 1,2013 | 07:59AM
Larry01 wrote:
allie, you continually prove to know nothing about the topics at hand. While the local business climate may not be ideal, the Hawaii Legislature has NOT depended on fed bailout.
on August 1,2013 | 08:09AM
1local wrote:
120 less jobs in Hawaii - lawmakers no care cause not union jobs...
on August 1,2013 | 09:32AM
DAGR81 wrote:
allie, you sound like a republican!
on August 1,2013 | 10:06AM
ippikiokami wrote:
It's the economy and the competition. First of all, the economy is not improving, and the first thing families are cutting is going to restaurants to balance their shrinking household budgets. Secondly, inflation on food/energy is driving up the cost of restaurants and they have to raise prices, cut staff and/or reduce portions. Finally, the competition from every fast food outlet and restaurant is brutal, and only the strong will survive. Expect more restaurants to belly up.
on August 1,2013 | 10:33AM
Mythman wrote:
Fine family dining statistics show it is doing well - too many branches and fast food and steaks are not all that compatible, necessarily. Steak houses doing ok. The "sizzle" as caused by serving the steak on a heated metal plate......
on August 1,2013 | 04:45PM
Sunny wrote:
Last time I went to Sizzler about 2 years ago, I was very disappointed with their buffet and value.
on August 1,2013 | 08:06AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Sizzlers was a great place to eat until the plates started getting smaller to accomodate the smaller portions.
on August 1,2013 | 08:10AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
I notice that this "smaller portions" has become prevalent in many restaurants from McDonald's to Drive Ins. When I took my children to McDonald's because we could not go home first to eat before going to an appointment I was shocked at the size of the Quarter Pounder and Big Mac. McDonald's stated in an SA article that they were removing the Third Pounder because the price was a hindrance to customers. Then they add special Quarter Pounders that are basically smaller for about the same price. This "bate and switch" tactic has resulted in McDonald's losing my business. I refuse to patronize any business that rips off its customers. Then there is the "Kama'aina" pricing that we are so used to. If a pizza is advertised nationally at $6.99 you can be sure that it will cost double at your local "Kama'aina" pizza restaurant.
on August 1,2013 | 03:39PM
kiragirl wrote:
I bought coupons and they're worthless. Anyone know if refunds are given?
on August 1,2013 | 08:13AM
OldEnoughToRemember wrote:
If it was Groupon, you can trade for other promotions.
on August 1,2013 | 11:48AM
kiragirl wrote:
Thanks but it was from Hot Deals in the SA.
on August 1,2013 | 03:13PM
naomiow9 wrote:
I just got an email from Hot Deals: "We have been notified that GoKo Steak & Salad Bar Restaurants have closed. We will be receiving the list of unused vouchers from the restaurants and issuing credits. Thank you in advance for your patience in this matter as we sort through the lists."
on August 1,2013 | 03:53PM
mrluke wrote:
The Sizzlers I've gone to in Calif have more selection, better value and great dessert choices.
on August 1,2013 | 09:31AM
bullturd wrote:
"GOKO" with a name like that sounds Japanese. "Sizzler's" now that's a "GOTO" Steak-house (among other food varieties) to have a reasonable priced dinner.
on August 1,2013 | 09:49AM
false wrote:
Sounded to me like a Korean BBQ restaurant. Names are important like "blazing steaks" to draw potential customers to what they offer.
on August 1,2013 | 10:51AM
Larry01 wrote:
Yep, the name might not have done them in, but it sure didn't help.
on August 1,2013 | 03:30PM
lowtone123 wrote:
Sizzlers was popular amongst locals many years ago but they never changed with the times. I enjoyed going there but the prices were high and not much value. Service was generally good. Where am I going to get my cheese toast?
on August 1,2013 | 10:40AM
OldEnoughToRemember wrote:
This is no big surprise. It was as overpriced as Sizzler was and the food quality remained the same. The quality of the food ingredients was always bottom of the barrell cheap. Compared to the mainland locations, the Sizzler locations were very sub-par - with the exception of the Waikiki location. Good food made with quality ingredients at an affordable price is not rocket science. There are plenty of food establishments that provide such here and they are doing well - even in a stagnant economy.
on August 1,2013 | 11:47AM
AlanR wrote:
Sizzler was way overpriced and the food was from hunger. Far too expensive for what you got. Won't miss it.
on August 1,2013 | 01:11PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
What kind of a name is GoKo for a steak restaurant? It's obvious that they knew not much about marketing. Further, from my experience at eating at one of the locations when they were named Sizzler the food was not very good and the price was not great either. I got sick from eating at Sizzler. But I knew full well that when you eat out you take a risk. I have gotten sick from eating at Burger King at Beretania. And it was not only once. I notice that it is when I ate at fast food restaurants that I got sick. I suspect that workers may not always practice safe food handling procedures. They are probable in a rush to do their job. While that doesn't excuse them it probably happens more often than not.
on August 1,2013 | 03:32PM
kahuku01 wrote:
It doesn't take much to figure out why "GoKo" is the name of the restaurant. The owners are Clinton Goo and Bert Kobayashi. Take the first two letters of their last name and put it together and you got "GoKo."
on August 1,2013 | 08:17PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Speaking of restaurants, McDonald's stated in a previous article that they were removing the Angus Third Pounder due to the price being a hindrance to customers. I was treated to a shock when I took my family to McDonald's for a meal before an appointment only to find a small-looking Quarter Pounder and Big Mac. The smaller Special Quarter Pounder that replaced the Third Pounder cost just about the same as the the sandwich that it replaced. This "Bait and Switch" tactic has lost them a customer. I'm sure that others have noticed it, too. Way to go, McDonald's.
on August 1,2013 | 03:45PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
Speaking of restaurants, McDonalds stated in a previous article that they were removing the Third Pounder due to the price being a hindrance to customers. I was treated to a shock when I took my family to said restaurant for a meal before an appointment only to find a small-looking Quarter Pounder and Big Mac. The smaller Special Quarter Pounder that replaced the Third Pounder cost just about the same as the the sandwich that it replaced. This "Bait and Switch" tactic has lost them a customer. I'm sure that others have noticed it, too..
on August 1,2013 | 03:49PM
HD36 wrote:
I live next to all kinds of businesses that have closed recently: Circuit City, Inspirations; Borders Book Store; JC Penny's, and now Sizzler's.
on August 1,2013 | 05:42PM
spam wrote:
We had our Union meetings there and the staff were world class. Really sad..
on August 8,2013 | 08:03PM
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