Too much crime pushes business out of Chinatown

Otto Cake

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Otto Cake moved to Smith Street and quickly became popular for its homemade cheesecakes with exotic flavors. But over the years, it’s been plagued by problems of crime around the business.

“It just seemed the best thing to move out of there,” owner Otto said.

Otto says he was assaulted three times.

“The latest incident which was a nail in the coffin was one of my employees was threatened with a gun,” Otto said. “Not actually pointed at him, but he had it in his waistband. And he lifted up his shirt and he was staring him down.”

Then there was the burglary attempt earlier this year.

“On March 1, two people tried to break in both doors. I had a back door and a front door. And they were trying to break into both doors at the same time,” Otto said.

A leader of the Chinatown community says she doesn’t blame Otto for leaving and considers the whole series of incidents a black eye.

“I really feel bad that Otto got run out by the bad guys and that the good guys can’t win,” President of the Chinatown Business and Community Association Chu Lan Shubert-Kwock said.

Shubert-Kwock says there are already too many businesses leaving Chinatown and it’s only going to get worse unless it gets more resources from the city.

“I think definitely our city needs to do more because we are in the city because we are in the special district. We need to get the tourists business people to do more because if the tourists come down,” Shubert-Kwock said.

Otto says he feels bad about leaving because he feels he didn’t finish what he started. But in the end, it just got to be way too much.

“But when you spend as much time as I did not on my business and trying to clean it up. It’s just not right,” Otto said.

The Honolulu Police Department says it’s committed to doing everything possible to keep Chinatown safe.

Officers meet regularly with the neighborhood board and business associations to address the problems.

Otto Cake plans to open a new place on Kaimuki on Thursday, Independence Day.

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