Kona Hooters may not reopen for six weeks
The chain's second isle outlet is lacking key county permits
Hooters in Kailua-Kona, closed just a week after it opened last month, may have to wait several more weeks before receiving the permits it needs to reopen.
The bar and restaurant, the second Hooters in Hawaii, was shuttered due to its failure to obtain the proper permits, according to Hawaii county public works officials.
It could take another four to six weeks, possibly longer, to review and process the permits, which was submitted on Jan. 26, according to Bruce McClure, Hawaii's Public Works director.
"We're doing our best to help them understand the situation," said McClure.
The 10,024-square-foot restaurant at the Waterfront Row Center on Alii Drive, belongs to franchisee Hoowaii Inc., owned by brothers John and Robert Pardini of California.
The Pardinis, who have franchise rights in Honolulu and central California, bought the Aloha Tower Marketplace Hooters two years ago, which has been at that location since 1995. Hoowaii also own three other Hooters in Fresno and Sacramento.
Hawaii county's department of public works issued Hoowaii three stop-work orders for the Big Island restaurant in early January, saying it was operating without the proper electrical, building and plumbing permits.
Until those permits are issued, the Kona Hooters' temporary liquor license is also on hold.
Frank Chopski, Hoowaii's vice president of operations, said the company was working to correct the matter.
"We're moving right along," said Chopski. "We're working with the city and they're working with us. After this weekend, we should be able to nail down a date... We don't have a sure date, but it should be very soon."
The restaurant has already hired about 80 workers, he said, most of them locally, through word of mouth and a radio ad.
"We're just going through the process of submitting our permits and plans," Chopski said. "There was some miscommunication, so we're following those procedures."
Hoowaii is seeking locations on Maui, with overall plans to open five Hooters total in the Aloha state. The Atlanta-based Hooters chain has more than 425 locations worldwide, 390 of which are in the United States.
Paul Mann, the state's representative for the National Restaurant Association, had little sympathy for Hooters.
"We welcome anybody that enters the market," he said. "But Hooters is a big company. They should know what they're doing and there's no excuse for them not to have their permits."
Mann, who owns the Korner Pocket Bar & Grill in Keala-kekua, says it's not unusual for restaurants to face permitting issues. Many times, he said, there's confusion over whether the owner or the landlord is supposed to apply for building permits.
"I follow the rules," he said, "and if you follow the rules, guess what? They come by and approve it. In my experience, I've found them (the county) to be cooperative."