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Buca di Beppo closing only Hawaii location in May

Nina Wu
                                Some of the Italian dishes served at Buca di Beppo at Ward, which is closing in May.
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Some of the Italian dishes served at Buca di Beppo at Ward, which is closing in May.

The Florida-based Italian restaurant chain, Buca di Beppo, will be closing its sole location in Hawaii this spring after more than 20 years in business.

The restaurant at Ward Village will serve its last meals on May 10.

In a letter to the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Buca di Beppo said 64 employees would be affected due to the closure of the restaurant at 1030 Auahi St.

The planned departure follows on the heels of Outback Steakhouse’s exit from Hawaii, with the abrupt closure in February of its three remaining restaurants in the state.

“As we bid aloha to Buca di Beppo, we are actively working to find a new tenant that adds to the thriving residential, shopping and dining scene developing at Ward Village,” said Taylor Herring, general manager of Ward Village, in a statement.

Buca di Beppo, recognized as a top restaurant in the Star-Advertiser’s Ilima restaurant guide, has been a popular gathering place for celebrations, with signature, red-checkered tablecloths and vintage photographs on the wall.

Sheryl Matsuoka, director of the Hawaii Restaurant Association, said rising costs of doing business due to rising costs of electricity and food along with a higher minimum wage has made it challenging, even for mainland-based chains, to continue their leases.

“It’s really, really sad to see Buca di Beppo go because they’ve been here for how many decades,” she said. “That’s a family place. People go to the movies, and then go downstairs and have dinner. It was kind of the whole entertainment.”

The closure of one restaurant impacts many others, she said, including the farmers and suppliers that have worked with that restaurant for many years.

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