HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Haleiwa Beach House has a temporary liquor license that will expire at the end of this month. But the Honolulu Liquor Commission won't hold a hearing on renewing that license until August.
That meant the troubled restaurant faced the possibility of shutting down, or cutting back on its operations, without a liquor license.
The solution: having a catering license from its sister restaurant, Michel's at the Colony Surf, to cater food and liquor for the Haleiwa establishment.
"It surely seems like a novel approach for the delivery of food and alcohol all the way in Haleiwa from all the way in Waikiki," North Shore resident Blake McIlheny told the commission at a hearing Thursday.
McIlheny said the restaurant faces other issues, including fire inspection violations, and shouldn't get the catering license.
"The real question here is the safety of the restaurant, given the multiple violations, the safety of the public," he said. "Why would the commission offer this privilege, given the various safety hazards that may be present?"
Restaurant owner Andy Anderson fired back.
"The arguments aren't true," he told commissioners. "There's nothing dangerous, there's nothing dangerous that jeopardizes health and welfare at the restaurant. Nothing!"
Anderson also accused McIlheny of orchestrating a personal vendetta against him.
"This would not be an issue today if this one young gentleman and three or four of his friends had not turned this into a circus," said Anderson. "Our house is not dangerous. If it was dangerous I would close it down tomorrow."
The liquor commission was supposed to decide on the Haleiwa Beach House's liquor license on June 2. But that was the same day the state Department of Health shut down the restaurant for wastewater violations. The restaurant opened a few days later after reducing its seating capacity to meet its septic tank requirements.
"We settled with the Department of Health, and we're okay with the Department of Health," Anderson told commissioners.
Some of the restaurant's employees came to support him, and to ask the commission to preserve their jobs.
"It's hurting the workers more than anything else," said Lori Schlotman. "The people that put all their hearts and souls into this."
"At least give us the opportunity to stay open," said Naomi Ramirez, another employee. "And I know that Andy's really trying his best to get things going with the restaurant and everything, and so are we."
Commission members still took Anderson to task for not having all the proper approvals beforehand.
"Now we're in a situation of having to remedy a situation that could've been avoided if you had gotten all of the required permits and approvals prior to opening business," said commissioner Malama Minn.
Despite the concerns the commission voted to approve the catering permit, which means that Michel's staff will help prepare food and drinks at Haleiwa Beach House through August 30. That will allow the restaurant to serve liquor until the Liquor Commission can decide on its actual liquor license on August 8.