Kyo-ya closing its Waikiki restaurant March 31
The Kyo-ya Japanese Restaurant, a Waikiki landmark since the 1950s, wasn't affected by the swelling of the bubble in the Japanese economy in the late 1980s, and managed to stayed the course after the bubble burst in the early 1990s.
However, softening in Hawaii's international visitor market, which has seen Japanese arrivals drop nearly 10 percent for the year, has compelled Kyo-ya Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Kokusai Kogyo Co., to close its iconic restaurant and seek a buyer or lessee for its formidable complex at the gateway to Waikiki.
Kyo-ya's owner said in a statement it will cease catering on Nov. 30 and close the restaurant on March 31. The company also said that will offer transition help to the 100 or so employees that work in its catering and restaurant operations.
Terada Real Estate recently listed the 25,063-square-foot Kyo-ya restaurant and complex along with its 28,761-square-foot lot, which is next to Fort DeRussy and Waikiki's couture center.
Kokusai Kogyo, owner of billions of dollars worth of real estate in Japan and around the world, has not named an asking price for its property, which is a combination of fee simple and leasehold.
The company also owns the four Sheraton-managed hotels in Waikiki as well as other premier properties around the globe. The Kyo-ya unit, which started with the opening of the Kalakaua restaurant, was the company's first Hawaii investment.
The company spent less than $200 million to buy all of its Hawaii properties well before the bubble began to form. As Hawaii properties soared in value, Kyo-ya put money back into its properties, including $15 million into renovation of the Waikiki restaurant complex.
While Kyo-ya's Hawaii investments were insulated from the bubble days, Tokyo-based owner Kokusai Kogyo has been under pressure from creditor banks in Japan to sell assets. In 2004, Cerberus Partners LP -- which has a history of acquiring assets, improving them and selling them -- bought a controlling stake in Kokusai Kogyo.