Honolulu, HI: Some restaurants adding food truck model to help survive COVID-19

By Nicole Tam | KITV Island News

Honolulu, Hawaii news, sports & weather – KITV Channel 4

With the hope of surviving the effects of the coronavirus, some restaurant owners are changing the way they do business. Some establishments are going mobile. Expenses like rent and utilities continue to add-up for restaurateurs. Left with no choice, some eateries are trying new possible solutions like food trucks.

Tori Ton on South King Street is an izakaya, a Japanese style pub. The place was often packed before the pandemic. Since, it’s been mostly empty.

“Image of my place is drink and eat, drink and eat so I was forced to do take out but then it was really hard to just have customers come back for this,” Takuya Tsutsumi, owner, Tori Ton, said.

Thinking outside the box, Tsutsumi bought this truck for $26,000 last month. He and his wife Erina hope to soon have Tori Ton Express on the road.

“There’s not rent. I can park anywhere. I’ve been paying rent for this Tori Ton was kind of hard,” Tsutsumi said. “I only need one month to start that, because easy to get permit and no need selection.”

Ono Seafood opened its second location in Hawaii Kai last July. Because of the coronavirus, owner Lance Brug says he lost about 50 percent of his business.

“We were scared. My stomach was not happy, didn’t sleep well at night, I’m sure a lot of other people too,” Brug said.

What’s helping him these days is the Poke Bowl Patrol food truck he rolled out last year.

“There’s no fall back. We’re all in. My wife and our kids, it’s all in. We have to make this work,” Brug said.

His dream became a reality that quickly hit the skids because of COVID-19 but with his brand celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, he says won’t go down without a fight.

“My wife and I want to do 25 more and turn it over to my kids. That would be super cool,” Brug said.

Brug believes there’s a safety benefit in food trucks, he says elevation creates required physical distancing.