March 2024

Monthly News & Updates

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2024 Hawaii Restaurant Association Officers and Directors

Chairman's Message

We extend our heartfelt gratitude for the resounding success of the Hawaii Hotel and Restaurant Show (HHRS). The palpable energy, bustling activity, and fruitful interactions truly made it an exceptional gathering. Throughout the event, attendees reveled in the rich tapestry of connections, transactions, and camaraderie that unfolded. Our engagement with HRA members and the community was particularly enriching. We had the privilege of speaking with many of our members, delving into their concerns, and facilitating meaningful connections with premier vendors such as Sysco Hawaii and YHata & Company.

Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to explore a myriad of services ranging from medical insurance to staffing solutions and cutting-edge security devices. A standout feature of the show was undoubtedly the pervasive presence of AI technologies. Witnessing robots seamlessly navigate the venue was awe-inspiring, but even more remarkable was the integration of AI into security measures. The deployment of AI-powered law enforcement personnel ensured the safety of all attendees, enhancing the overall experience.

As we reflect on HHRS's success, our sights are set on an even grander affair—the National Restaurant Show (NRA). This marquee event promises an unparalleled array of offerings, eclipsing even the breadth of HHRS. For a comprehensive preview of what awaits at the NRA show in Chicago, we invite you to explore HRA's informative Think Tech episode at NRA Show Preview.

We are thrilled to announce our upcoming Golf Tournament—an event not to be missed. We encourage you to secure your spot promptly, as demand has been high and teams are filling quickly. Join us for a day of spirited competition, delectable cuisine, refreshing libations, and enticing prizes. You've earned this indulgence, so seize the opportunity to revel in well-deserved leisure and camaraderie.

Your presence would undoubtedly enrich our gathering, and we eagerly anticipate welcoming you to what promises to be an unforgettable tournament. Please check out the link and register your team at:


Ave Kwok

Hawaii Restaurant Association Chairman

Do You Know About the FICA Tip Credit?

Restaurant and bar owners now have access to an exclusive tax credit that helps recoup money spent paying tips to their employees. It’s called the FICA Tip Credit and lets you get your FICA tax back from the IRS. If you have employees who earn tips as part of their wages, then it’s likely you qualify! Visit HRA's Adesso partner page below to learn more.

HRA's Exclusive Partner Page

Maui Small Business Recovery Grant Program

Offered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The Maui Small Business Recovery Grant Program was established by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in partnership with American Express and with support from Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, to support disaster recovery in Maui through grants to small businesses impacted by the devastating Maui wildfires of August 2023.  

In collaboration with the Maui Chamber of Commerce and Lahaina Town Action Committee, the program will provide $5,000 grants and business coaching to 100 small businesses to help them recover and build long-term resilience in the face of economic challenges.

Eligible business owners can apply for the grant now, applications close on May 1, 2024. 

Learn More

New Member Liberty Capital Announces Member Benefit

Free Business Consulting for Your Restaurant!

Liberty Capital Group is a boutique small business funding source, a private, self-funded small business lender and broker who supports the business community.

For the past two decades, Liberty Capital Group has been dedicated to helping businesses thrive by offering tailored financing solutions to meet their unique funding needs, and has remained strongly guided by its fiduciary moral duty to provide the best funding for those who are underserved.

Through their membership with the HRA, Liberty Capital Group aims to connect with local restaurant owners, share expertise, and provide valuable resources to help them succeed.

Liberty Capital Group is offering HRA members free business funding consultation. During these consultations, Liberty Capital Group's team of experienced financial experts will review current business financing arrangements, assess opportunities for savings, and explore options to optimize business funding strategies. Whether it's reducing high-interest commercial loans, consolidating business debts, or accessing additional capital for expansion, Liberty Capital Group, Inc. is dedicated to helping HRA members achieve their financial goals.

Please contact Adrian Dalsey, CEO, at 888-511-6223 or email

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Using AI to Support Restaurant Workers, Not Replace Them

As the role of AI in the industry continues to grow, smart restaurateurs find ways to use it to support their teams, creating new opportunities for revenue, increased efficiency, and brand expansion.

Interest in artificial intelligence is at its highest, and major tech companies are in an AI arms race. Combined with automation and machine learning, AI’s potential for optimization and efficiency gains is massive.

AI’s potential to disrupt human life can often be viewed pessimistically. People fear that automating tasks will mean fewer jobs for actual people. Some see artificial intelligence as a harbinger of a new era in which people have less say in what happens to them, and decisions are based solely on data and algorithms.

Read more to examine how artificial intelligence is already being used in the restaurant industry, where the technology is leading us, and how restaurant owners, managers, COOs, and everyone in between can use it to support teams.

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How to Maximize Your Restaurant Profit Margin

5 Key Strategies

Understanding what influences your restaurant's profit margin helps you assess the success of the business and make positive changes. 

A slight improvement in your net profit makes a huge difference. It’s worth, therefore, investing in improving operations to boost your margin.

This guide will examine the definitions and calculations for different types of restaurant profit margins and discuss the best ways to improve them through better inventory and purchasing management, tech integrations, and analytics.

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Seven Pillars to Attract Top Talent

In an increasingly competitive market, creating a memorable dining experience requires more than good food and a pleasant atmosphere—it also demands an exceptional staff. In an environment where skilled individuals are coveted commodities, being the employer of choice sets you apart and creates a sustainable point of differentiation.

Read this comprehensive guide for restaurateurs who want to become the hub of career opportunities. This includes understanding the current job market, building a strong employer brand, and implementing strategies to make your restaurant the ultimate career destination.

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Six Major Restaurant Marketing Flops

Marketing is a vital ingredient in the restaurant business. The industry is entirely too competitive for brands to dismiss it as a secondary element. A good product and marketing campaign can rescue a restaurant from near bankruptcy and it can open the doors to new groups of customers.

But campaigns can also have the opposite effect. When a marketing effort goes bad, it can cost companies hundreds of millions and even lead to bankruptcy filings and store closures.

Read about some of the worst restaurant marketing efforts in recent industry history.

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Understanding the Restaurant Cybersecurity Threat Landscape

Cyber risks have existed for a long time, but that doesn’t mean they’re static. Attacks are growing more sophisticated and expensive. The average cost of a data breach in 2023 was almost $4.5 million, more than 15% higher than just three years prior. Statista’s market insights forecast that the global cost of cybercrime will increase from $9.22T in 2024 to $13.82T in 2028.

Restaurant technologies are prime targets for cybercriminals.

Read More

Alcohol Public Policy Trends: What Operators Need to Know

The U.S. has experienced countless public policy changes since the start of the pandemic, many of which have completely reshaped the food and beverage industry. Of all the changes affecting restaurants, bars, and other food and beverage retailers, none have had as big an impact on the industry as shifts in alcohol public policy. Learn all about recent policy changes and trends that could affect your business. Watch this 6 minute update from VP of ServSafe Alcohol and Regulatory Services Trevor Estelle.

Watch Here

Attend the 2024 NRA Show

The Biggest and Best Foodservice Show of the Year

Register today for the food service industry’s premier annual event—the National Restaurant Show. Overflowing with innovative exhibitors, inspiring programming and irreplaceable networking opportunities, the Show is a once-a-year opportunity to experience the best of foodservice and find the products and connections you need to grow and thrive. 

There are over 2,200 exhibitors already registered for the 2024 Show. Check them out in the "Show To Go"—the Show’s official digital directory—which includes updated information on all these exhibiting companies and their products. Head there now to explore suppliers and begin adding favorites to your personal profile for future reference—it’s the perfect way to start Show prep.

All Hawaii Restaurant Association Regular Members (restaurants) receive one FREE badge to the show!

Restaurant Member Companies of the National Restaurant Association receive an allotment of complimentary Expo Only registration(s) as a member benefit. All communication regarding the promotional code for registration will be emailed to the main contact in your membership record.

2024 Exhibitor Directory
Register for NRA Show
Hotel Discounts Here

How to Retain Hourly Workers

Developing a strong compensation strategy and offering competitive wages is crucial for retention and recruitment. Yet despite how important employee pay is to workers, nearly half of all organizations surveyed (47%) by the Hawaii Employers Council do not have a compensation philosophy. Of those with one, only 18% have it written (34% say theirs is unwritten). 

Documenting your strategy, sharing it widely across your company, and using it in the recruitment process can allow you to clearly outline how you provide best-in-class pay policies, benchmark compensation to ensure a fair rate, determine bonus amounts and payout schedules, and calculate raises.

Read More

March 2024 New and Renewing Members


Aloha on the Beach Designs

Arancino Ristorante Italiano

Elle Zhang Realtor Inc.

Liberty Capital Group

Manson Products

Oasis on the Beach

Palate Wine Bar

Western Pacific Distributors


AdStreamz, Inc.

Armstrong Produce

Da Playground Maui

Diamond Dining

Dole Food Company Hawaii

First Insurance Co. of Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanic Beverages


HMS Host

JM Hawaii Jersey Mike's

Kabuki Restaurant


Makawao Steakhouse

Paradise City Trading LLC

Sumo Ramen & Curry

The HRA Vision
The Hawaii Restaurant Association is the organization unifying, representing and supporting the Hawaii restaurant and food service industry.

Mission Statement
To provide exceptional value through membership benefits, industry advocacy, community involvement, educational resources and networking opportunities.
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