Volcano Joe’s has finally run out of steam, closing for good
Volcano Joe's at University and Metcalf may run out of food at some point today, at which point it will close for good.
However, if the "open" sign is on, "we are still serving," said owner Les Iczkovitz, in an e-mail that expressed regret over the closure and encouraged anyone with remaining credit on a Club Joe card to use it up.
He blames rising costs of rent, real property taxes, dairy products and more for making it "impossible" to continue, the e-mail said.
Restaurant industry publications have for months reported on skyrocketing cheese costs affecting pizza-makers, and Volcano Joe's was known in part for that dish.
He has "more than a few years" left on his lease, but declined to elaborate to TheBuzz. "The restaurant business is hard," and he is getting out of it, he said.
His 30 employees, mostly part-timers, were notified of the impending closure on Friday.
The cafe, restaurant and live-music venue is liquidating its inventory; McClain Auctions will sell off a bunch of stuff at noon Tuesday on-site. Inspection will be from 11 a.m. to noon, said auction house owner Marty McClain.
Iczkovitz's Volcano Restaurant Group LLC took over the 3,367-square-foot restaurant in December 2003, according to Glenn Tsugawa, senior vice president and chief financial officer of the YMCA of Honolulu, which owns the space adjacent to the Atherton Y. The previous operators, McNulty Brothers Inc., had gone bankrupt.
"He was a good tenant for almost four years," Tsugawa said.
Volcano Joe's catered for private and public events such as Manoa Valley Theatre's production of "Cabaret." It participated in Oahu Dines, along with other restaurants, donating a portion of proceeds on a particular day to the Life Foundation. It supported other community events as well.
Star-Bulletin restaurant reviewer Nadine Kam noted in 2005 that the place was always packed at lunch and that by evening the only dessert choice left was cheesecake.
The review praised the healthy choices on the menu and gave the mix of vegetarian and omnivore-fare 3 stars, rating its value at 3-and-a-half stars.
"The summer months were always rough for him," said Tsugawa. "He needed additional time to make rent but he would always eventually pay his rent."
This summer was no different, but coming out of summer, "he indicated being quite challenged," Tsugawa said.
Now behind, Iczkovitz and officials at the Y are hopeful that talks with a local franchisee for Yogurtland will come to fruition. It is a self-serve frozen yogurt chain that is part of the exploding fro-yo phenomenon sweeping from Korea to California, with us in between.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org