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Rising costs, lower sales shut down Compadres


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POSTED: Thursday, September 25, 2008

Compadres Bar & Grill, citing escalating costs and the economic downturn, is closing its last Hawaii establishment tomorrow night after a 24-year run.

 

     
  • Local Compadres Restaurant Close It’s Doors

 

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Mexican restaurant Compadres plan to close its doors after more than 20 years of service.

 

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  The family-owned restaurant, which opened in January 1984, couldn't withstand a spike in operating costs coupled with declining sales due to a severe drop in tourism, which has affected spending for many of its local customers, according to owner Rick Enos.

"We just didn't have enough customers to compete with the tremendous costs we don't control," he said. "Diners don't see the electric bill or the freight on avocados when they order their enchiladas. We could only charge so much."

The restaurant's 35 employees will receive their final paychecks tomorrow.

The economy has taken a toll on other well-known local favorites, including Sam Choy's 13-year-old flagship restaurant on Kapahulu Avenue, which also attributed its demise this summer to rising costs. Other recent casualties include the Chef's Table, which had a 10-year run at the Hawaii Kai Towne Center; Brazilian barbecue restaurant Tudo de Bom, which had a four-year run at McCully Shopping Center; and the 152-seat Holokai Grill, which abruptly shut down at the Waikiki Beach Walk after just a little more than a year in business.

Local celebrity Carole Kai commiserated the impending closure yesterday over lunch at Compadres, one of her favorite eateries, which also was a longtime supporter of her namesake bed race and the Great Aloha Run.

"I feel really, really sad, so as soon as we heard this morning that they were closing this Friday, we had to come down and pay our respect," she said. "I'll miss ... the atmosphere here, food and good spirit that you get while you're here with the workers. People are just in a happier mood when they come here because the whole atmosphere is conducive to that."

Compadres also has been a strong supporter of other community fundraisers, providing donations to numerous charity organizations including Parents and Children Together.

"We're losing a great restaurant, but we're also losing a community partner," said Norma Spierings, PACT's community relations director, while having lunch at the eatery yesterday. "They've always been supportive of the community here in Hawaii, so that makes me double sad."

Enos said he regrets not acting sooner to sell the popular Mexican restaurant or to bring on a partner to alleviate the financial burden during the steady decline in sales.

"The last three or four years have been difficult here in Hawaii," said Compadres spokeswoman Elissa Josephsohn. "We've watched things go downhill so this wasn't a sudden thing. It is very difficult for an independent businessperson to make it in Hawaii's climate."

Besides a drop in tourists and local customers, Compadres also has seen fewer military families come in since the escalation of the war, Josephsohn said. She wouldn't disclose sales figures.

Enos and his family also closed locations on the mainland in Palo Alto and Oakland, Calif., earlier this week. The Compadres in the Lahaina Cannery Mall on Maui, which attributed decreasing sales to the loss of visitors following the closure of Aloha and ATA airlines, closed last week.

The family will continue to operate the newly opened Compadres Rio Grille, a separate corporation from Compadres Bar & Grill, in Napa, Calif., and will still operate catering services in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Enos' wife, Nancy, heads the administrative office; son Jeff is general manager in Napa; son Scott was general manager in Palo Alto; and daughter Lauren was head of catering for California.

Ward Centers is aggressively marketing the Compadres space and does not have a signed lease at this time, according to marketing manager Diane Bruce.