Alan Wong’s Pineapple Room will serve its last meal on Saturday, July 29.
The restaurant opened its doors in Liberty House in Ala Moana Center back in September 1999, and continued operations with Macy’s at the same location.
Wong opened The Pineapple Room to give his young chefs and staff an opportunity to run their own restaurant. The Ala Moana eatery was known for a more casual menu using local ingredients and recipes.
“Our time has come to say aloha,” says Alan Wong, president and owner of Alan Wong’s Restaurants. “Over the last 18 years, we have made many memories and friends at The Pineapple Room. We would like to say mahalo for everyone’s support and patronage over all these years. We would not have made it so far if not for all of you. The dining landscape has changed, and we’ve amicably decided with Macy’s to move on from this concept. Our priority now is to maintain operations for our loyal customers and take care of the current staff through the end of July. Thank you very much, and please stay tuned for what’s next.”
Pineapple Room employees will have an opportunity to apply for work at Alan Wong’s eponymous King Street restaurant.
This is one of many restaurant closures that have been announced over the last month, in addition to Grace’s Inn in Aiea, and Kincaid’s and The Old Spaghetti Factory at Ward Warehouse — although the latter is scheduled to move to Aloha Tower Marketplace by the end of the year.
But experts say that doesn’t mean the industry is struggling.
According to food blogger Melissa Chang, roughly two dozen restaurants have recently opened in Chinatown alone.
“There’s definitely a lot of new restaurants coming into Hawaii, so there’s a lot of choices for diners in general,” she said.
According to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, there were about 81,000 restaurant employees in Hawaii last year. That number is expected to go up to just above 84,000 by next year.
“There’s a huge mix of restaurants coming in, so not just chains from the mainland, but there’s also local eateries, some restaurants that are already established and expanding, so there are a lot of choices,” said Chang. “Then other chefs are coming out with pop-ups within their restaurants, bringing in new chefs from the mainland to kind of share their philosophy with diners here.”
Chang says even higher-end restaurants are coming up with new ways to draw diners in.
“People are looking for good value,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be low-end, but even if it’s considered high-end, as long as the restaurant delivers value, then that’s good for the diner.”