Friday, July 27, 2001

Enomoto defends
fines given
to his bars

The liquor board nominee says
the issue should not
stop his appointment

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

A nominee for the city Liquor Commission says his appointment should not be held up because two bars he used to own were cited for liquor violations.

Real estate agent Dennis Enomoto said he believes his experience owning two alcohol-serving establishments taught him the importance of adhering to liquor laws.

"I don't think I would be soft on anybody," Enomoto said, in response to an issue raised this week by City Council Public Safety Chairman John Henry Felix. Felix's committee this week held up Enomoto's nomination pending an explanation of the violations.

Enomoto said, "Something I learned from operating, being affiliated, with these two entities is, you have to run these things properly, and if not, you need to get out."

Enomoto had a 15 percent interest in Hawaii Stars Studios, a chain of karaoke clubs.

The Nimitz Business Center branch of Hawaii Stars Studios was owned by Enomoto's company from late 1996 until 1999.

The bar was hit with one $500 fine for an open-container violation and two $250 fines for failing to file annual gross sales reports in a timely manner.

Enomoto's company also owned Downtown Karaoke Box on Merchant Street, which had beer and wine service only. It was fined $100 for failing to file a gross sales report in a timely manner in 2000.

Liquor Commission officials said the open-vessel violation actually occurred with the licensee before Hawaii Stars Studios took over. Adjudication occurred during Hawaii Stars' ownership.

Enomoto said there is no good reason for the violations, but noted that both businesses were doing badly and on the brink of closing when the violations occurred.

"I guess the managers were concentrating on operations and those kinds of things, and I guess they neglected the reports," he said. "I know it's not the right thing to do, but sometimes it happens."

Felix said he is troubled that the violations occurred several times.

"When there are repetitions of that violation, one has to take note," he said. "I'd like to know how he sees (the violations) and for him to tell me about the seriousness of them. Some people tend to do things rather casually. I want to know how seriously he takes these violations."

Enomoto was vice president of Hawaii Stars Studios when the violations occurred. Former state Sen. Mike McCartney was president. Other directors included Tom Enomoto, Enomoto's brother and a politically influential developer, and entertainer Carole Kai.

Dennis Enomoto said there are no more Hawaii Stars outlets, and he has no interests in businesses that serve liquor.

E-mail to City Desk

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