Profits Way Down For Businesses Around Convention Center

Published On: Nov 09 2011 05:13:07 AM HST   Updated On: Nov 09 2011 06:44:09 AM HST

This week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and all the associated road closures are having a big impact on businesses around the Hawaii Convention Center.

Big and small businesses said they're taking a big hit this week because residents are staying away from the area.

Akasaka?s parking lot was empty at the height of the lunch hour, which is normally a profitable time for the popular Japanese restaurant.

"Never like this. It hurts a lot. Yes. Look at it. This is empty," said Akasaka manager Mi Ok Choe.

Choe cut Wednesday?s staffing in half because the restaurant is losing $700 to $1,000 a day on lunch and up to $1,500 on dinner, even though there is access to the restaurant on Kona Street.

But there is a roadblock at the end of Kona at Atkinson Drive, and Choe believes that is keeping customers away.

"If I were a customer too, I wouldn't come. It's too hard. I don't blame them," Choe said.

Seoul Garden Yakiniku restaurant on Kapiolani Boulevard is seeing a 70 percent decline in customers.

"They scared to get too much traffic and taking time, especially lunch hour. Big time, losing business,? said Seoul Garden owner, Yun Hee.

The right eastbound lane of Kapiolani Boulevard remained open up to Atkinson on Wednesday, leading right into the parking of lot of popular eateries like Blazin Steaks, which is usually packed during lunch hour.

Its owner pumped up inventory 400 percent to prepare for possible APEC crowds, which haven?t materialized yet.

"It's definitely a little slower than we thought, than we anticipated. But we've been pretty steady. I think we've been a little more fortunate than most businesses around here,? said Blazin Steaks owner Keone Gaspar.

At Ala Moana Center, employees said the shopping mall was also empty.

Vendors along the mall said business was way down on Wednesday.

?See, usually we sell 21 boxes. I?ve sold two boxes today -- two boxes of tea. That?s horrible. I?m not even trying anymore. I want to go home. I didn?t make any money,? said Catalina Freitas, a weight-loss tea vendor.

But the restaurants and businesses hope to see a recovery starting Thursday when world leaders and foreign dignitaries start arriving and APEC kicks into full gear.


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