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Like many restaurants that got the word last week about shutting down dine-in service, the Pagoda Floating Restaurant was faced with the dilemma: What do we do with all this food? Read more

Like many restaurants that got the word last week about shutting down dine-in service, the Pagoda Floating Restaurant was faced with the dilemma: What do we do with all this food?

“Our first thought was, let’s just give it away because it’s perishable,” said John Teruya, general manager of the longtime Ala Moana restaurant.

But then he and Duane Kurisu, who owns the Pagoda restaurant under parent company aio, thought of a way the food could benefit the wider community. They offered lunch service, initially to aio’s own multiple companies in the Cades Schutte Building on Bishop Street, as well as any nearby downtown businesses. (Aio companies include Hawaii Business Magazine, Honolulu Magazine, Hawaii Distribution Center and more.)

By Wednesday, they had developed a program to drop off 100 boxed lunches at the Cades Schutte loading dock, selling for $8 to $10 (minimum 10 meals per order). By Friday, they had delivered 200 meals to a wider range of businesses. Given all the restaurant closures or restrictions, there are few places those still working in downtown offices can buy meals, Teruya said.

“We’re not breaking even, but we’re trying to provide for our community,” he said.

On the lunch menu this week are shoyu chicken, miso pork with carrots and daikon, and baked catch of the day; and an Aloha Friday Hawaiian plate. Dinner pans that feed four to six ($50) combine any two entrees.

As a restaurant specializing in buffets, the Pagoda wasn’t suited to takeout, Teruya said. At the time it shut down it had two weeks worth of food in storage, but if the delivery program continues into the coming weeks, its suppliers (Y. Hata & Co. and D. Otani Produce) have assured the Pagoda they can fill future orders.

The hope is to serve as a model for other shuttered food outlets.

“What we wanted to show people was this is who we are in Hawaii: When there are hard times, we come together as a community to figure out how we can serve our community.”

The meals aren’t available to the general public for the time being, as the program hopes next to extend its service to businesses deemed essential to public health and safety — firefighters, police officers, Hawaiian Telcom, Hawaiian Electric and health workers already have expressed interest.

The restaurant is also working out an arrangement with a nonprofit foundation to distribute food to elders and the needy down the line, he said.

Of his regular staff of 80, only eight kitchen employees are working on the meals. Aio is providing three months of medical insurance coverage for those who’ve been laid off.


For those covered by the Pagoda’s limited current service, orders must be prepaid and placed by 10 a.m. weekdays for pickup at 1000 Bishop St. (11 a.m. to noon for lunch and at 5 p.m. for dinner). Delivery to businesses is available for larger orders. To order or view menus, visit pagodahawaii.com or call 948-8354.