Another restaurant rumor untrue


POSTED: Friday, March 27, 2009

Indigo restaurant is not closing.

Not only is it not closing, it is about to stage a joint news conference with Hawaii Theatre Center “;announcing our new 10-year lease,”; said President and Executive Chef Glenn Chu.

The new lease was agreed upon after years of often-contentious negotiations, but “;we're putting that behind ourselves,”; said Greg Johnson, Indigo vice president of operations and catering director.

“;We're delighted to have a new lease,”; said Sarah Richards, HTC president, expressing enthusiasm about plans for the news conference and its continued relationship with Indigo.

The frequency of restaurant closing rumors are likely tied to difficult economic times and may proliferate when restaurateurs fall behind in payments to purveyors, but “;we have been paying our bills. We are totally up to date ... everybody (is) paid up,”; Johnson said.

The same has not been true for all the restaurants that have suddenly closed in recent months.

When a major production has a run at Hawaii Theatre, the restaurant is well-booked, but other times, Indigo grapples with slow lunch or dinner services following busy nights, as do other restaurants, Johnson said.

It makes planning staffing levels more challenging, but he is a 30-year veteran of the restaurant business and has danced this dance before.

“;One of the great things about Indigo is that it is diversified. It is not just an award-winning, fine-dining restaurant,”; but it has cultivated a nightclub and bar business over the years with its expanded Green Room and Opium Den.

“;So we do get a great bar crowd that definitely helps pay the bills.”;

The other asset is Indigo's catering business, which it does not advertise.

Its largest client has been MC&A Inc., a destination management company for in-bound meetings and incentives travelers.

However, we all know how the visitor industry has been doing and how in tough times, some mainland corporations don't want to be viewed askance for booking business travel to Hawaii.

“;Initially ... it looked like 2009 was going to be an epic year,”; with bookings by insurance and pharmaceutical companies and hoteliers “;coming in pretty big numbers,”; Johnson said. Even toward the end of the year companies were saying they were still coming, “;but a lot of them backed out literally a month out.”;

The first quarter was rough, but the restaurant has nearly half a million dollars in bookings for April. “;That kind of stuff fills our coffers,”; said Johnson.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).