Waiau merchants find ways to boost business despite roadwork

From Pearl City to Honolulu, numerous lane closures are in effect throughout the week due to work on Honolulu’s rail project.

It’s not only causing headaches for drivers, but businesses as well. The impact is prompting some places to take matters into their own hands.

“We do comparatives from this year to last, and we’re off pace for some of our locations, specifically Waiau,” said Paul Yokota, president for Zippy’s Restaurants.

Yokota says it’s normally busy during the lunch hour at Waiau Zippy’s, but lately, not so much. “We all have to be patient with the process and we all have to adapt to it,” he said.

Yokota says three Zippy’s restaurants, Waiau, Waimalu and Pearlridge, have all been affected by lane closures on Kamehameha Hwy. and work related to the rail project.

Yokota is handling the slowdown in business by increasing his communication with customers and the rail contractor. “They provide us with what work they’re going to do, with as much advance notice as possible, and we place that onto our website,” Yokota said.

The website also lists other ways to get to their restaurants without running into traffic.

Other businesses in Waimalu and Waiau say they’ve also seen a decrease in foot traffic, but they’re learning to be flexible. Some merchants in the area are changing business hours to accommodate customers. For example, the Chow Hound closes an hour later at 7 p.m.

Nearby mobile phone shop VG Addict remained quiet, even on a holiday. When asked how bad business has been, shopkeeper Layton Saito said, “It’s over half of the amount of sales as compared to the previous month.”

Saito says he sent out mailers advertising his company, but not a single person who received it stopped by. He and others are trying to think of other ways to stay afloat, but for now, they’re doing their best to roll with the punches.

“I really don’t know what else I can do, except maybe step on the side and do drive-thru service, I don’t know,” Saito said.

“We have great customers and many of them will relocate or migrate to different locations, and we hope they continue to do that,” Yokota said.

To see traffic updates related to rail, click here.

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