Pearl City bar draws chorus of criticism
Neighbors say they often see violence and sex acts atop cars
When Fay Toyama became principal of Lehua Elementary School four years ago, teachers told her that students who live in the area were tired in school.
The reason: Noise from a neighborhood disco prevented them from sleeping or studying at night.
Even now, she says, kids witness fights outside the bar and sex acts on top of cars.
When she arrives at school in the morning, she says, she finds cans, bottles, needles and used condoms in the parking lot for school visitors and parents. And sometimes there are people in the parking lot, with coolers, still drinking, Toyama adds.
The Honolulu Liquor Commission is expected to vote this afternoon on a petition not to renew the liquor license of the Pearl City bar, the source of complaints from the surrounding community for the past five years.
Attorney Keith Kiuchi said his client, Hyon Cha Suinn, owns the liquor license for Hui Ohana Lounge at 829 Lehua Ave., formerly known as The Sportsmen Lounge, but allows someone else to operate the establishment under a management agreement. If the manager does not appear at this afternoon's Liquor Commission hearing, "We have no basis to object," Kiuchi said.
Kiuchi said the manager has not been communicating with Suinn and they learned after the fact from someone else that he closed the bar last month.
The liquor license expires at the end of the month and the lease on the building expires at the end of the year.
In December, Kiuchi said Suinn agreed not to renew her license and lease in mediation with the Pearl City Neighborhood Board and community members if they agreed not to oppose her application for a new license at a different location.
Suinn's late husband, Franklin, had no trouble when he ran the establishment as a neighborhood bar, Kiuchi said. Hui Ohana Lounge and Melrose Place, another bar across the street, are near Lehua Elementary. But both locations had their liquor licenses before the state Legislature enacted a law in 1991 prohibiting the granting of new licenses for establishments within 500 feet of schools and playgrounds.
Kiuchi said the trouble started when Suinn entered into a management agreement five years ago with someone who turned the bar into a disco and took advantage of the cabaret license by staying open till 4 a.m.
The current manager took over last year but the complaints persisted even after the Liquor Commission ordered changes to the hours of operation and the bar's entrance and required security on the premises.