comscore Non-essential business owners in Hawaii rally at the state Capitol | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Non-essential business owners in Hawaii rally at the state Capitol

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Bar owners, musicians and supporters of Reopen Hawaii echoed their frustration today at the state Capitol while demanding to reopen their non-essential businesses "now."

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Bill Comerford — owner of O’Toole’s Irish Pub, Anna O’Brien’s, Kelley O’Neil’s and the Irish Rose Saloon — stood in front of Washington Place today holding a sign protesting his businesses not being able to reopen.

    DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Bill Comerford — owner of O’Toole’s Irish Pub, Anna O’Brien’s, Kelley O’Neil’s and the Irish Rose Saloon — stood in front of Washington Place today holding a sign protesting his businesses not being able to reopen.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Kailua resident and bar supporter Shawne Garliepp held up a sign during a protest against the continuing closure of bars and night life venues at the State Capitol in Honolulu today.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Kailua resident and bar supporter Shawne Garliepp held up a sign during a protest against the continuing closure of bars and night life venues at the State Capitol in Honolulu today.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A woman who declined to give her name due to possible employment issues held a sign during a protest against the continuing closure of bars and night life venues at the State Capitol in Honolulu today.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A woman who declined to give her name due to possible employment issues held a sign during a protest against the continuing closure of bars and night life venues at the State Capitol in Honolulu today.

Bar owners, musicians and supporters of Reopen Hawaii expressed their frustration with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions Friday at the state Capitol, demanding an immediate reopening of their “nonessential” businesses.

Over 100 people demonstrated by waving American flags and holding signs with messages that included, “We are educated adults and can make educated decisions. Please allow us to reopen.”

Some demonstrators wore red “Make America Great Again” hats and one person was dressed in a military uniform.

Bill Comerford, owner of O’Toole’s Irish Pub, Anna O’Brien’s, Kelley O’Neil’s and the Irish Rose Saloon, said his businesses have been closed for 70 days.

“We are closed and they’re not telling us when we can reopen,” he said. “It’s a huge issue for us.”

Comerford said that by June 30 he and other bar owners will have to pay their liquor licenses.

“For me that’s going to be about $8,500,” he said. “I’ve had zero income. I’ve had to use my loan.”

He said he received a $580,000 loan through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which allows loans to be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

Some of Oahu’s “medium-risk” businesses, which include tattoo shops, barbers and hair salons, reopened Friday. Restaurants are being allowed to reopen for dine-in service starting June 5, but officials have not said when bars and nightclubs might be able to resume business.

Shawne Garliepp, president of Creekside Lounge in Kailua, said she’s been getting calls from customers every day asking when the establishment will reopen.

“It’s a small bar,” she said. “We know how to social distance. It’s spotless.”

Garliepp said her business was impacted drastically to where she is living off her savings.

“I’m 61 years old and I wanted to retire,” she said. “Now it’s going to push it up.”

Reopen Hawaii organizer Brooke McGowan said she sympathizes with the small business owners.

“They are very frustrated,” she said. “The problem with the bar situation is the 25% capacity doesn’t fit their business model. To open up a bar, you spend a lot of money to get the beer up to date and to get everything up to date. It costs a lot of money to get it going, and if you can’t bring a big group then they’re losing money.”

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Comments (75)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up