Kokua Line

June Watanabe

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Kozo Sushi
gift certificates
cause confusion

Question: We went to Kozo Sushi in Kahala Mall, and it's closed. I also understand that the Moiliili Kozo's is closed. I have several gift certificates. However, the Kozo Sushi in Kapahulu won't take the gift certificates, and I'm not sure about the others, so what are we supposed to do?

Answer: There are several Kozo Sushi restaurants on Oahu, run by different owners.

The closing of several of the takeout restaurants in recent months is apparently causing anger and confusion among some customers, and a lot of grief for the remaining restaurants.

Kansuke International Corp. operated and closed the Kahala, Moiliili, Kamehameha Shopping Center, Dillingham and Pearl City Kozo Sushis.

We could not find a contact for Kansuke; the listed local phone number has been disconnected.

The Hawaii Kai and Kaneohe Kozo Sushi are owned by another company, while the Kapahulu restaurant is under yet another owner.

Meanwhile, Gene Niwa said his wife is the new owner of the Moiliili and existing Pearlridge restaurants and expects to reopen the Moiliili one on Sept. 9.

Niwa said the Moiliili restaurant may honor gift certificates issued by the previous owner, so you can try there after it opens.

Gloria Patricio, manager of Kozo Sushi in the Koko Marina and Windward City shopping centers, said Kansuke's main Moiliili restaurant "had asked us to stop taking" their gift certificates more than a year ago, because there would be no reimbursements.

Patricio then posted signs at her two restaurants informing customers that they wouldn't accept gift certificates issued by other Kozo Sushis.

"We have lots of complaints," Patricio said, a statement echoed by the manager of the Kapahulu Kozo's. Customers "just blame us."

She said she is trying to work something out with the Kozo Sushi office in Japan. But the problem is that no one knows how many gift certificates are out, Patricio said.

"So they (the Japan office) probably are not going to cover it," she said. "If they had an idea, maybe they could work something out."

As it is, "Kansuke already owes all of us money for (previously honored gift certificates)," she said.

The Office of Consumer Protection had not received complaints about Kozo Sushi gift certificates, Executive Director Stephen Levins said yesterday.

Generally speaking, he said, although restaurants may share the same name, if they are separate corporate entities and if the gift certificates indicate they're good at only the issuing or certain establishments, then the other owners are not obligated to honor them.

However, it's another matter if different franchise owners share the same marketing agency and offer jointly sponsored deals or promotions, he said.

Levins said his office would have to look at all the facts and circumstances before deciding whether anyone may be liable for unused gift certificates.

The Office of Consumer Protection can be reached at 587-3222.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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