On this Memorial Day, 50,000 people packed Ala Moana Beach Park for Monday evening’s Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony.
Last week, in preparation for the big event, organizers reminded people who planned to attend to bring their own food and drink. That’s because the park’s two concession stands have been closed for about a year, one at each end of the park.
Now, KHON2 has been told the city will reopen the stands for the second time in more than two years to a new vendor: L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.
“I think that’s a great idea,” said Irene Lear, who was at the park to attend the festival. “Lot’s of people would benefit instead of dragging the food home.”
Another festival attendee, Rick Maryott, was camped next to the concession stand at the Diamond Head end of the park. “As long as I can remember, when I was a kid, I used to come here,” said Maryott. “I would definitely support local vendors.”
The concession stands were reopened two years ago and then shut down again about a year later.
KHON2 spoke to the previous vendor, Optimum Marketing and Management. A company spokesperson said that while it had the contract to operate the stands, it simply decided not to renew with the city.
City managing director Roy Amemiya told KHON2 a new contract has been awarded to a franchise with L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and the city hopes the stands can reopen next month.
However, he said the vendor is still awaiting delivery of kitchen equipment.
Event organizers told KHON2 that Monday’s lantern floating should be viewed simply as a ceremony and not a money-making event, and that is why they did not actively pursue vendors of any kind, including food concessions.
They got the notice last month that there will be no city concessions at the park on the day of the festival, so the festival made sure the public got the heads up to bring their own meals and drinks, or at least have a grill handy to cook on the spot.
“We had to bring our own lunch today because (the concession stand) was closed,” said Elaine Reyes, a festival attendee.
Reyes said the reopening of the stands would be a lot easier for park users because “we wouldn’t have to lug all our things.”
Amemiya said the contract with L&L Hawaiian Barbecue will run for five years.