WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new Denny's restaurant is nearing completion on what was a vacant corner at the Diamond Head end of Kuhio Avenue. But neighboring residents fear that it's going to be a bar, right across the street from Thomas Jefferson Elementary School.
"There is a Denny's in Waikiki, couple blocks down Kuhio that doesn't serve liquor. Kailua Denny's doesn't serve liquor," said Waikiki resident Melissa Filek, who lives in the condominium building next door to the new restaurant. "There's actually only a handful of Denny's that do have liquor licenses."
Filek was one of about 20 people who showed up at a Honolulu Liquor Commission hearing Thursday to oppose a liquor license request for this particular Denny's.
Filek is concerned because of how close the restaurant is to the school.
"So they have an outdoor lot and they have outdoor seating," she told commission members. "And they want a full bar, 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. while there's kids going around the property, on the property."
Other residents in neighboring buildings like the Makee Ailana and Crescent Park condominiums expressed their opposition as well.
"I have nothing against bars. I have nothing against having a cocktail. I do not want them in my neighborhood, right under my bedroom window," said neighbor Donna Lynch.
""We're a little neighborhood there," said Carolyn Menegas, another nearby resident. "The restaurant may be a plus mark in many ways. Alcohol is not a plus mark."
Former First Hawaiian Bank CEO and state school board member Don Horner owns the property. He said alcohol sales will be limited, and will end at 10 p.m. in the outdoor areas and midnight in indoor areas of the restaurant. He also said a full stand-alone bar is not being built in the restaurant.
"The simple goal was someone wants to have a beer or a glass of wine with their lunch or their dinner, we want to give that as an option. That's the sole purpose," Horner told the commission.
And his attorney said the school is not an issue.
"He has made contact with the schools and they have made no objection to us and our proposed business," said Newton Chu.
However, there is enough objection from neighbors that the commission has continued the hearing for another week. That's when the commission will accept more testimony, and possibly make a decision.