Don Ho's Death Shocking to Some

Fred Livingston
Fred Livingston

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Friends are still in shock over the death of legendary entertainer Don Ho because he was planning some big changes to his Waikiki show.

The owner of Don Ho's Island Grill says he just spoke to the entertainer last week, about possibly moving the show from the Waikiki Beachcomber to his namesake restaurant at Aloha Tower Marketplace.

But he will now have to move forward without his longtime partner and friend, who died Saturday of heart failure.

"It's been a wonderful relationship and a shock to me and everyone else here that Don's not with us any more in body, but he's sure here in spirit," said Fred Livingston, the restaurant's owner.

It is busy but a day after Ho's death, the atmosphere is definitely not the same.

"Everybody's kinda down," said Livingston. "Don spent so much time here, they felt like they were really part of his family."

Outside, the televisions that usually play one of Ho's shows are turned off, covered with message of aloha. Inside, the walls are unchanged, still covered with posters, pictures and special items from Ho's life, giving the restaurant an old Waikiki feel.

"He liked to come off to people as the barefoot beach boy, but he was a very, very smart man," said Livingston.

So smart, Ho knew it would take more than just old memories to be a successful business.

"He always wanted the staff to realize that it was more important to take care of the locals than the visitors cause the visitors come and go, but the locals are your lifeline," said Livingston.

For ten years with Ho's name out front, the restaurant has been doing well. Owners expect to keep it up, even though a big part of them is gone.

"It's been a wonderful relationship, we're gonna keep it going," said Livingston.

And just like the pictures on the walls, Ho will always be here.

Livingston says the restaurant will keep the Don Ho name. And just like the entertainer wanted, it'll keep pushing local entertainment by featuring local bands, and karaoke Sunday events.

Funeral arrangements are still pending.