Alicia’s Market, a local favorite since the 1950s, scales back operations to survive pandemic

Alicia’s Market, a local favorite since the 1950s, scales back operations to survive pandemic

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Alicia’s Market has been one of Hawaii’s go-to spots since the 1950s for a quick lunch, after-work pupus or help filling out a game day menu.

But the coronavirus pandemic has altered its operations on a number of levels.

“The people going to bars, buying the peanuts, buying the poke, buying the pupus to go out and drink and see their friends ... that’s completely done,” said Alicia’s Market co-owner Chris Kam.

[This story is part of HNN’s “Hawaii Strong” series, profiling businesses in the islands adapting to the pandemic and its economic fallout. To suggest a profile, send an email to]

COVID-19 hit just as the Kam family was recovering from another crisis — a fire in the summer of 2018 that shut down their store and forced them into a narrow walk-up window setup.

Before the blaze, visits from social media influencers who have millions of subscribers helped increase the market’s profile among visitors. “We see tourists right off the plane,” Kam said. “As soon as they come off the plane, they’re hungry, they look on their phone like ‘Hey where’s the closest place to eat?’ They hop on by."

But with tourism on hold, revenue has dropped 30% — a financial dip that’s also a product of stay-at-home orders that restrict gatherings.

“Catering went down to nothing,” Kam said. “No parties. There’s no football. There’s no bars open. There’s no beaches open to go to. There’s no birthday parties happening. No graduations. We missed the whole graduation season. All the birthday parties got canceled.”

While they navigate government restrictions, Alicia’s has slashed its hours of operation, reduced its menu, and like thousands of other Hawaii companies, received and subsequently went through its PPP money.

Until the COVID-19 surge subsides, any plans for expanding and re-building are on pause and the focus is merely survival. “With this whole situation and how slow business has gotten, we don’t know when would be an opportune time to open the bigger store, but we are still in the process of rebuilding.”

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