Sudden Restaurant Closure Leaves a Trail of Confusion

Stephany Sofos
Stephany Sofos
Gail Coleman
Gail Coleman

HONOLULU (KHNL) - T.G.I. Friday's on Ward Avenue leaves a trail of confusion, after it abruptly shut down on Monday.

Not only did the closure take regular customers by surprise, even employees didn't know about it until they came to work. And folks who work in the building say, they're also in shock.

For sixteen years, Gail Coleman has worked in this building. And for sixteen years, she made T.G.I. Friday's a regular lunch spot. Now Coleman has to go elsewhere, after the restaurant closed abruptly on Monday.

"Just surprised and sad we're losing a famous kind of piece of history here," she said.

It also took the employees by surprise. They didn't know they were out of a job until they showed up to work on Monday. No one called to let them know.

The restaurant's general manager would not comment on camera, but said it was a tough decision.

Joe Khoury, the franchisee's president, released a statement, saying "challenging economic times and personal difficulties" forced the closure.

Regular patrons noticed a decline in business over the years. They say convenience could be a factor.

"My best guess is that it was a lack of parking," said Coleman. "That if you can't run out for lunch and find a quick parking place, you just can't take the time to stop and there's not enough walking traffic to support it."

Experts say restaurants must stay fresh and reinvent themselves to keep existing customers and attract new ones.

"The new generation of children and the new generation growing up, they don't want to go to their mom and dad's restaurant. They want their own restaurant," said Stephany Sofos, a real estate consultant who has worked in Oahu's commercial real estate for close to 30 years.

Still regular patrons said it's like losing a favorite hang out spot.

"We're going to miss it," said Coleman. "We hope something else can come in but without parking, I don't see how that would be possible."

T.G.I. Friday's still has a second restaurant in Waikiki that is still open. Of the 50 employees who got laid off, only three found jobs at the Waikiki location.