Bar owners struggle to recover amid ongoing prohibition of alcohol sales after midnight

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Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:03 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 9, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While some restrictions eased this week, Hawaii bars are frustrated that government is still prohibiting them from selling alcohol during their most profitable hours.

For most bars, the majority of sales are made between midnight and 2 a.m.

Jasmine Mancos, the owner of Honolulu’s Proof Social Club, considers herself a survivor after pivoting her way though the pandemic that struck just two months after she opened.

“It was a bummer,” she said.

Her business started off as a bar that served a little food. But to make it through the lockdown, that had to change. “Over the past year we’ve become a bar/restaurant.” Mancos said.

She’s says she’s thankful that restrictions on bars and restaurants are finally easing up. But with alcohol sales still prohibited after midnight, she needs to find another way keep the doors open.

“We are really, really missing that revenue,” she said. “We paid for permits and licenses and rent for almost a whole year that we couldn’t use. And we still aren’t being able to fully utilize them.”

A few blocks away, The Manifest is being hit hard, too.

“We want to be able to maximize our hours,” said owner Brandon Reid. “Maybe 80% of our income is generated in those four hours (between midnight and 2 a.m) on the weekend (Saturday and Sunday).”

HNN asked the city why it has yet to lift pandemic restrictions limiting alcohol sales.

That specific question wasn’t answered, but the city did issue this statement:

“The City and County of Honolulu is currently in Tier 5, the last in the tier system before COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. Restaurants and bars will be able to resume permitted pre-pandemic operating hours for serving alcohol when the City receives approval to move out of the tier system. The City will continue coordination with the State regarding any potential adaptations in the process.”

Mancos responded that it isn’t as if “COVID goes to bed at midnight.”

“So I really don’t understand what the difference is or what the thought process is not letting us stay open those extra two hours to try and recover from the past year and a half.”

In the meantime, Proof Social Club is now serving brunch.

“It’s going to start at 10 a.m. and it’s going to go to 4 p.m. every Sunday,” Mancos said. “It should be really exciting. And hopefully it helps.”

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