HART partners with businesses hurt by rail work

HART partners with businesses hurt by rail work

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Shiro's Saimin Haven has been in hot water since rail construction rolled into its neighborhood and cut into its bottom line.

"In the past eight months our business sales have gone down $10,000 to $15,000 a month. That's huge," owner Linda Matsuo said.

The restaurant's one of 65 businesses signed up with HART's new Shop and Dine on the Line program. HART advertises them in a publication and on a website.

"If you'll take the extra effort to come down here and shop, they're going to give an extra bonus for doing that," HART CEO Dan Grabauskas said.

Participating businesses offer discounts on merchandise or meals.  Powerhouse Gym will waive enrollment fees and Highway Inn will award points to frequent diners.

"They need patrons to come and support them.  We need not the one-time customer, we need the frequent long-term customer," owner Monica Toguchi said.

"We saw that there were going to be impacts. But we never realized the magnitude of the impacts," HART board member Ivan Lui-Kwan said.

Grabauskas said two dozen companies are on the waiting list to join. Tanioka's isn't one of them.  But owners of the Waipahu eatery believe Shop and Dine might work for some companies.

"If you can bring a whole bunch of people and still make a little bit of money, you're still making money," Justin Tanioka said.

"If it brings in the business, we won't be losing," Matsuo said.

Businesses in Aiea, Pearl City and Waipahu can participate. Shop and Dine will eventually be opened to Kalihi companies before rail construction enters their community.

"Our expectation is that wherever we're doing construction to the rail there's going to be impacts," Grabauskas said.

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