Dunkin’ Donuts to close doors
across from Convention Center
Dunkin' Donuts at 1718 Kapiolani Blvd. will close its doors at the end of this week, as did adjoining sister-restaurant Catch of the Day Sushi during the summer.
"Hopefully we'll be able to use (the employees) at other locations," said Ronald Au, attorney for ICH Group LLC, operator of the two eateries. He did not say how many employees might be affected.
ICH owner Kenneth Iong did not return repeated calls and Glenn Wong, president of operations, referred all questions to Au.
A lease dispute over parking between ICH and landlord M&H Corp. is behind the closures, he said.
M&H did not respond to a faxed request for information and comment.
A family trust that owns the parking lot behind the restaurant sued M&H last year for nonpayment of rent, according to Au.
The matter was resolved, but M&H "didn't pay it again, and they were sued again, so there's a second suit in Circuit Court, not against us, against the landlord," Au said.
The parking lot in the front is shared with other businesses during the day and at night is overrun with customers of area bars and nightclubs.
Au said the company had asked M&H to hire an attendant to ensure that only its tenants' customers filled the lot, "but M&H makes no effort to control it. We have no authority, we can't kick people off," Au said.
ICH decided to close Catch of the Day, drawing a District Court lawsuit from M&H seeking back rent. Au did not recall the amount being sought.
"As far as we're concerned, we don't owe them any money. Frankly, our attitude is, 'If they're not going to provide parking, the heck with it. What good is our business without parking?' "
ICH has filed a countersuit seeking $8 million in damages. ICH invested $500,000 in the space, opening for business in January 2001 and had a 10-year lease, Au said.
"Frankly, if they would just honor their lease, we wouldn't be in this situation," Au said. "You can't operate a restaurant, even a fast-food restaurant, without parking."
Au is moving to have the case transferred to Circuit Court, citing the $20,000 ceiling on civil cases in District Court.
Au could not comment on the rest of ICH's operations, which include the statewide Dunkin' Donuts franchise, a single Baskin-Robbins store in Kapahulu, other Catch of the Day Sushi restaurants and Sushi Chef, a wholesaling operation.
During the summer, the Market City Catch of the Day store was purchased by Ming Lee, former general manager of Sushi Chef.
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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, 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