Erika Engle

Don’t flip your pancake,
but IHOP is coming to Oahu

International House of Pancakes Corp. is expanding to Oahu in the coming months. The new IHOP lease will soon be signed, but because the ink has yet to appear on the paper to dry, Maui franchisee Rennie West was not at liberty to confirm the location.

There were once two IHOPs on Maui, according to corporate director of public relations Patrick Lenou. The first opened in 1980 in Kihei, but there was a fire. It reopened, but when the franchise agreement ran out in April of 2001, the restaurant was closed. That left the Maui Mall location in Kahului, which opened in 1989, the lone Hawaii IHOP.

Lenou has news for diners with pangs for pancakes and other IHOP comestibles, or franchisees eager to serve them up.

"It's no secret that we're looking to develop further in Hawaii.

"Certainly the agreement we have with Rennie is to develop a single location, but we have looked forward to developing multiple locations either with Rennie or a new franchisee," Lenou said.

Basic franchisee information is available on the company Web site,, or by calling the franchising office at 1-888-774-4467.

Windward rebound

There was great concern about Windward Mall not very long ago, as shoppers passed vacant space after vacant space.

Then a big new movie theater multiplex came in and slowly, things started looking up.

Signature Theatres' Windward Stadium 10 opened May 25, 2001, the same day Consolidated Amusement Co. Ltd. opened its flagship Ward 16 complex on Auahi Street in town.

Each threw open its doors for the big movie of the day, "Pearl Harbor."

The mall has gone from alarmingly vacant, at 78 percent occupancy, to its current 90 percent, according to Steve Sofos, leasing agent for two years and president of Sofos Realty Corp.

"The theaters have generated a tremendous increase in traffic," which has increased sales for existing tenants and attracted new stores.

"Penneys went out and the theaters went in, but what Windward Mall has suffered from is the national downturn," said Sofos.

JCPenney Co. closed its Windward Mall store in 1998, a harbinger of the company's plans to close all but one store in the islands. Its Ala Moana Center, Pearlridge Center and Hilo stores closed in January leaving 458 people unemployed. Only the Maui store remains open, but the company has agreements with other retailers that serve as pick-up points for catalog purchases.

"Every time we let local tenants in, we've had national tenants go out," such as Gap, he said.

"We put Music Mac in, they're doing phenomenal, we put in Price Busters and Marukai, we put other tenants in, clothing stores," and the like.

"It's like we put four in and two go out."

While Pricebusters and Marukai are low-end retailers, "they bring in tremendous volume" in traffic and sales. Each has opened a second space in the mall for the holidays.

At least the aggregate tenant change is positive.

Part of the problem has been that national retailers want to come into a market during a boom.

"They should come in when it's low," to get better lease deals, he said.

The task for shopping center managers and leasing agents is to get the right businesses around the theaters "so that it uplifts the shopping center," Sofos said.

He cites previous experience at Enchanted Lake Shopping Center in Kailua.

"When Wallace (Theatres) first came in we immediately went out and got a pizza restaurant." Round Table Pizza has "phenomenal" sales, he said.

Other restaurant and food concepts were added, such as Chocolate Sushi. "Their chocolate is to die for," and enough for special trips over the Pali for Sofos' wife.

Now Wallace's Enchanted Lake Theatres are closed, but its Keolu Center Cinemas are adjacent to the Enchanted Lake Center. Sofos believes the 10,000 square foot former theater space "will regenerate itself whether it becomes a 24-Hour Fitness or Marukai" or something else.

"I see a lot of good things coming into the Hawaii market. It's just a matter of shopping center owners being receptive to the ideas," Sofos said.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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:


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