Most Oahu residents sheltered in place at home Friday, but some business operators decided to stay open to serve whoever ventured out ahead of the expected arrival of tropical storm-force winds or torrential rain from Hurricane Lane.
“Smart people right here — they are going to make a lot of money today,” said Hawaii Kai resident Jay Wetherbee as he bought a sandwich from Subway at Koko Marina Shopping Center.
While the Subway store was open, the Starbucks next door was closed and had sandbags stacked in front of its doors. Nearly every other tenant at the retail center, except for Loco Moco Drive Inn and Walgreens, also was closed.
Across Oahu, the scene was similar in many places with a smattering of stores, restaurants and gas stations braving the onset of the storm. Most residents heeded warnings from local government officials to shelter at home, but others were out and about and it wasn’t hard to find a place to eat or pick up some last-minute necessities.
At a Safeway in Makiki where ice coolers were 50 percent off and bottled water was still in stock, long lines of customers waited to check out and the Starbucks inside the store also had strong demand.
In Aina Haina, Foodland was closed and the Starbucks nearby had a plywood wall across all its windows and doors plus sandbags on the ground.
Major shopping centers including Ala Moana Center, Pearlridge Center, Kahala Mall and Windward Mall closed Thursday and didn’t plan to reopen until Saturday. Yet on Friday some smaller malls including Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center had a bunch of open tenants including O’Reilly Auto Parts, Petco, Jamba Juice, 7-Eleven and Safeway.
Laie Village Center on the North Shore was among those that chose to close, and tenant windows were taped for impact. The Ace Hardware store there had a sign that said in all capital letters: “We will be closed Friday on 8-24-18 and plan to reopen on Saturday 8-25-18 (weather permitting).”
Joe Mercado, a delivery driver with produce distributor HPC Foods Ltd., said he was called to work Friday because severe impacts from Lane on Oahu were delayed until possibly Saturday. Yet only some customers were open to receive deliveries.
In some cases, individual owners of franchises decided whether to stay open, while in other instances corporate decisions or other factors dictated whether certain retail chain stores were open or not.
Petco, for instance, was open in Kaneohe but closed in Hawaii Kai. But a Longs Drugs store in Kaneohe was closed while one in Aina Haina was open.
On the North Shore, shrimp trucks were closed in Kahuku but lunch wagons in Kaaawa were serving up food.
In Makiki, a 76 gas station was open while a Texaco next door was in the process of closing around 9 a.m.
In McCully, two Jack-in-the-Box restaurants were open while McDonald’s restaurants were closed.
At Breakers Restaurant and Bar in Haleiwa’s North Shore Marketplace, customer traffic was unusually big for a Friday breakfast shift, according to owner Benji Weatherley, who was able to attract eight employees along with his mother, Barbara, who filled in as a hostess.
Weatherley said he decided to close at noon “for the sake of our employees so they can be with their families.” He estimated that closing would forego 30 percent to 40 percent of normal business that includes an after-work bar crowd. On Saturday, however, Breakers is scheduled to reopen at 8 a.m. with Weatherley hoping that any destructive forces from Lane will have passed the island.