Ryan’s Grill at Ward Centre is closing after nearly 35 years.
The popular eatery and bar that opened in 1983 will close by Jan. 21, employees have told patrons.
The restaurant industry has been grappling with fierce competition and rising costs, as well as a new generation of “foodies” looking for more intimate experiences, said Honolulu retail analyst Stephany Sofos.
“Ryan’s is mom and dad’s restaurant. It’s been around 34 years. That’s a whole generation,” Sofos said. “When we all started going there in the 80s it was the happening place. Now the millennials are the ones driving the whole game in retail and restaurants. They’ll go to boutique restaurants.”
Meanwhile, the cost of doing business in Hawaii is escalating, she said.
“The cost to run a large restaurant is phenomenal,” Sofos said. “Not only has rent gone up but also the food costs and labor. In order to make a profit you have to have a smaller place.”
Long-time customers are feeling nostalgic about the impending loss.
“For my generation, Ryan’s was one of the best places for lunch and dinner. The bar was vibrant and super crowded, a sign of its popularity. You would see everyone there, from state officials to colleagues,” said former TV news reporter Tina Shelton.
She said the restaurant was the choice spot for farewell parties for reporters and photographers leaving the business.
After 30 years in news, Shelton’s farewell party was held there in 2007.
“Today, I wanted to take my young (in their 20’s) colleagues to lunch after a tough project. They had never been to Ryan’s,” she said. “They were taking photos of their food, naturally—millennials. I took a few moments to walk around the place and my thoughts went back to very good friends, good food and good times. This one really kinda hurts.”