As shutdown continues, bars (and the small businesses they support) say they may close

As shutdown continues, bars and small businesses say they may close

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of bar owners, employees and their customers rallied at the state Capitol on Friday, saying the shutdown may force their businesses to fold.

“Right now, my limit is June 30. I’ve already been closed for 70 days. I’ve used the P.P.P. program, I can’t go beyond that," said Bill Comerford, operator of O’Toole’s, Kelley O’Neil’s, the Irish Rose Saloon and Anna O’Brien’s. "My landlord cannot give me forgiveness forever.”

Comerford says he is losing $550,000 a month in sales, and they aren’t the only ones in rough shape. Plenty of small businesses and other retailers that have reopened are also struggling.

“These are longtime businesses, very successful businesses, that have been going on for years but they cannot survive without cash flow. They can’t survive in this current environment," said Marilyn Niwao, CPA and member of the Hawaii Council on Revenues.

With the end of the month near, many will have to pay lease rents for their businesses that aren’t making money, added Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii.

“We need to have lease rent abatement for some businesses," said Yamaki. “We know of some who are not going to reopen. We’ve heard of some who are trying to hang on, but don’t know how much longer they can hang on."

The shutdown is not only affecting the businesses and their employees, but also their vendors, suppliers and performers.

Musicians like Mike Piranha depend on their regular gigs at spots like Kelley O’Neil’s. All that work has evaporated with the shutdown, he said.

“They book 1,800 live acts a year, 90 a month at Kelley’s and 30 a month at their other clubs," he said. "That has put an awful lot of musicians out of work.”

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