Layoffs hit Maui Zippy's


POSTED: Saturday, April 04, 2009

Zippy's has laid off 47 full- and part-time employees at its lone restaurant on Maui, adjusting staffing levels from a peak of 130, said Paul Yokota, chief operating officer.

The company “;tried to extend the period of notification and eventual termination to those people who would lose their positions,”; extended its employee assistance program to them and provided information on how to get help from the state Workforce Development office, he said.

It was “;a very difficult situation for all involved,”; Yokota said.

When it opened the Kahului store in August, demand was “;far beyond”; expectations. The store “;was outperforming any of our other restaurants on Oahu, so much more that we had to bring in staff from Oahu. We also hired additional staff on Maui.”;

Zippy's parent company NCH Enterprises Inc. anticipated pent-up demand on Maui, but not having a track record for a neighbor island operation, officials were not sure what business activity would be, once it leveled off.

“;It leveled out below what we had anticipated,”; though “;it's still a productive restaurant,”; Yokota said.

The company in early March reduced hours of operation at several Oahu restaurants to better align operations and staffing with demand “;and I think we're quite in line with our adjustments,”; Yokota said yesterday.

“;The community takes such great ownership of our restaurants, that is very reassuring for us,”; he said. “;That is what is going to help us continue in the long term.”;

Lessons learned on Maui will help plans for further neighbor island expansion, and while “;we're looking at possibilities all the time, we haven't determined”; on which island it will expand next, Yokota said.