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Former Sizzler restaurants close on Oahu

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    2013 June 13 FTR - 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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