HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the shutdown drags on, some federal workers are struggling just to put food on the table.
So a former airport security worker turned Big Island restaurateur is helping the best way he knows how.
Over at Denny’s in Kailua-Kona, tourists are rare.
“Everybody knows everybody,” said owner Ali Sahito.
For the past decade, Sahito has been a fixture at the diner. He came to Hawaii following a career change after working airport security at LAX.
Over the years, he says, regulars have become more like family. So when he was asked if there was anything he could do to help the community’s unpaid federal workers, he didn’t hesitate.
“I said name it. Any federal worker being affected by this shutdown. Denny’s is here to help,” said Sahito.
Now when an unpaid worker comes in and shows their government ID, they’ll get a coupon for a free meal.
Sahito says word is just starting to get out and already staff have served up hot meals to well over a dozen people.
“I am very excited to help. Give them my service. The best I can. And welcome them,” said server Davina Kupihe.
Sahito says he’s glad to help, adding it’s one way he can give back to a community that’s given him so much.
“I just feel like being an immigrant to this country if I can do something good for citizens, it’s a blessing to me. That’s the bottom line,” said Sahito.