As they’ve done so many times for more than 20 years, John and Penny Kaneakua sat down Monday for a meal at Zippy’s Makiki restaurant. They each enjoyed eggs and shared a plate of pancakes. But this visit was different: It was their first dine-in restaurant meal since the start of the pandemic.
“She was leery, though,” said John Kaneakua. “She said if the parking lot is full, we’re not coming in. But we came in, and it was cool, so we decided to eat in.”
The reopening was the first of Zippy’s 23 locations — 21 on Oahu and one each on Maui and the Big Island — since the eatery closed its doors to in-house dining on March 17.
Reopening amid the threat of the coronavirus meant creating an infrastructure for safety, said communications manager Daniel Ito.
That included installing plexiglass dividers between tables and a digital thermometer that scans diners before they sit down. Arrows direct customer traffic and hand santizers operated by foot pedal are situated throughout.
Diners are seated at every other table for social distancing, and tables, plexiglass and seats are disinfected between seatings. Kitchen and wait staff wear masks and gloves.
Safety measures require visitors to do their part too, even before they enter the dining room, by signing up for a table online at zippys.com.
“We highly suggest customers put their names on a wait list online,” said Ito. “They’ll get a notification on their phone when their table is ready, so they can wait in their car. This encourages not gathering outside the restaurant.”
Even the regular menu has been streamlined for efficiency.
“Limited menu choices were based on speed of service so customers could get their entire order in five minutes or less,” said Ito. “This was to ensure that we would not have crowds waiting for food.”
The company is planning to reopen more locations based on size and popularity, he said.
Next up: the Vineyard location, at 59 N. Vineyard Blvd. “If everything goes as planned, it will reopen on July 20,” Ito said.
1222 S. King St.
>> Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
>> Info: 594-3720 or zippys.com
TAKEOUT, PLUS MORE
Sure, you can order a ready-made chili-rice bowl or Zip Pac to go, but did you know Zippy’s also sells mochiko chicken and chocolate cupcake mixes? Not to mention hand sanitizer and masks?
A current take-home deal is the Bombucha Box, a mix of chili, spaghetti meat sauce, hamburger curry, corned beef hash (all to be heated at home) and cornbread mix, with a free mask thrown in for good measure. And in true local-style, ohana fashion, the box includes a $25 gift card for Alan Wong’s restaurant. It’s a $165 value for $100.
Star-Advertiser photographer Cindy Ellen Russell contributed to this report.