Museum cafe is built but not yet open
The construction for the Hawaii State Art Museum cafeteria and gift shop, to be located on the ground floor of the museum in the Hemmeter Building, has been going on for the past two years and appears to be completed. However, there has been no activity, and no one can tell us when the cafeteria and gift shop will open. We who work in the building are anxious; the openings have been postponed for at least a year due to finances and lack of leadership. Can you find out what's going on?
Answer: Construction of both a cafe and gift shop in the Hawaii State Art Museum -- referred to as HiSAM -- were completed last May.
The cafe is scheduled to open this spring, but the store's opening is not expected until the end of the year.
The opening of the cafe has been delayed because of negotiations involving its operations, while the problem is money in getting the store up and running.
State Comptroller Russ Saito, head of the Department of Accounting and General Services, explained that a law was passed in 2004 authorizing the establishment of a nonprofit group to work with the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts in enhancing and supporting the work of the museum.
The Friends of the Hawaii State Art Museum was formed later that year to operate concessions or other for-profit businesses to generate revenues to support the museum, he said.
Consultants then developed a strategic plan for the museum and advised the Friends on how to run a successful museum store, he said.
"Negotiations involving the State Foundation, Friends of HiSAM and the cafe operator have been completed, and the cafe will open this spring," Saito said.
However, the contract had not been signed as of last week, so he could not yet name the person running the cafe, except to say "the operator has a reputation for good food."
The cafe will have table service, plus a takeout window for sandwiches.
"The food will feature local produce, healthy choices and a daily menu," Saito said.
Meanwhile, there is not enough money to purchase furniture and equipment for the gift shop.
The State Foundation and Friends of HiSAM "will work on solving that problem in time to open the gift store next winter to take advantage of the holiday shopping season," Saito said.
He added that both groups "have worked hard developing these much-needed amenities," aimed not only at museum-goers, but visitors and workers in the Capitol District and downtown Honolulu.
To the "homeless" person with the cardboard sign asking for money at Pali Highway and School Street. As the light turned green and the cars went away, I saw you pull out your cellular phone and begin talking. We would like to help folks who truly need it and do not have luxuries such as a cell phone. -- Michael Nomura
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