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Former Sizzler eateries go out of business

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    GoKo Restaurant Enterprises LLC on Wednesday closed the last three of its four restaurants. The salad bar at its Kapalama location.

The owner of Hawaii’s four former Sizzler restaurants abruptly ceased operations Wednesday, abandoning an effort to keep the business alive and reorganize debts through bankruptcy.

GoKo Restaurant Enterprises LLC said in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing Wednesday that after being unable to pay rent for June and July, it made the decision to close three restaurants in Aiea, Kapa­lama and Wai­pahu. A fourth restaurant in Kai­lua was closed at the end of June.

GoKo’s staff of 61 employees was affected by the shutdown, though the company had employed 120 earlier this year.

As recently as July 22, GoKo was intent on continuing operations, after renaming the Sizzler restaurants GoKo Steak & Salad Bar Restaurant in May to settle a dispute with franchisor Sizzler USA.

Now the company intends to sell its assets and convert its Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization case into a Chapter 7 liquidation.

GoKo is seeking to assign its Kai­lua restaurant space lease at Aikahi Park Shopping Center to Gyo­taku Restaurants, a move supported by the landlord. Selling assets for the Kai­lua restaurant would help pay GoKo’s main lender, Sovereign Bank.

GoKo said in a July 22 bankruptcy filing that it planned a campaign to publicize its new local-style menu but that the re-branding effort was taking longer than intended.

According to a July 24 financial report, GoKo’s finances took a hit after relinquishing the Sizzler name. The company reported a net loss of $86,723 for a four-week period after the May name change, inflating a cumulative net loss since April to $98,491.

GoKo 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.

Management anticipated that a strengthening economy, reduced debt payments to Sovereign Bank and the possible closing of some locations and sale of those leases would allow the company to return to profitability. The company once had annual sales of more than $6 million.

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.

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