Ha Coffee Bar faces eviction

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    The community continues to support Ha Coffee Bar on Rice Street in Lihu‘e Thursday despite the struggles it currently faces.

  • Stephanie Shinno / The Garden Island

    From left, staff member Mary Snell, Executive Director Jeff Adams and staff member Ashlin Matsuyama of Ha Coffee Bar on Rice Street in Lihu‘e stand tall through the pandemic and are hopeful they can remain open while they face their own immediate crisis.

LIHU‘E — Just shy of its seventh anniversary, Ha Coffee Bar in Lihu‘e, known for its coffee and community connection, on Monday received a certified mail from the building owner’s lawyer stating they needed to immediately pay deferred rent or face eviction.

“During the last six months, we have stayed open with the purpose of keeping our people employed, paid (and) insured, along with continuing to serve the community as best possible as a place to gather, work, study and share life together,” Ha Executive Director Jeff Adams said in an email.

“We worked out a plan to defer part of our rent with the building’s owner as we navigated these months of COVID and being 60% down on our normal sales.”

Before getting the notice, Adams was hoping Kaua‘i could open up safely so he could sit down with his building owner and work towards a solution of paying pack his deferred rent over the nine remaining years of his lease.

“We were able to stay open, and we have made it through the last months through the amazing generosity of this community,” Adams said. “It’s been a long walk for all of us, and we can’t thank you all enough for your support during this time.”

Adams said he was able to contact the lawyers involved and send over a proposal for repayment based around the unknown future on Kaua‘i, but to his dismay it was refused and countered with a proposal that wouldn’t work for him financially.

“It’s not possible for us to accept both legally and financially, due to our nonprofit status,” Adams said. “It has put all of us here at Ha in a difficult spot.”

Ha Coffee Bar is owned by Seaside Kaua‘i, a church community, and the church does not make anything from Ha. Its mission is to help people in the community.

Adams said he remains hopeful, and is seeking community partnerships or other solutions to stay open.

“We do want to continue to serve this great community, but to do so requires a mindset of partnership towards serving the community of Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i,” Adams said.

“It’s possible, yes. But big things would have to change with our building’s owner to see that come through, and we are out of resources or leverage to see that happen.”

Ashlin Matsuyama has been working at Ha for five years, and echoes Adams’ thoughts when she first heard of the situation.

“There was hope that Ha would still be able to remain open,” Matsuyama said, “And that the landlord would understand that we are in the middle of tragic times. I understand he has bills to pay, and everyone is struggling in that. I can see both sides. It’s just really lame that he is going to kick out a whole family of people just for that.”

While faced with an obstacle, Adams is reaching out to the community, still standing strong.

“So, if you have ideas, contacts and opportunities, or just want to help, let us know, as we have some great people working for us that we would love to continue to support,” Adams said.

“We are working on a few plans as well, and will keep you posted. We are also working with the RSBA (Rice Street Business Association) on a media push to talk more about where we are at and look at how maybe you might want to partner with us with whatever is ahead.

“This is not the end, it’s just a beginning that we all did not expect,” Adams said. “We have hearts full of thankfulness and respect for a bigger story that is always at work.”

The County of Kaua‘i encourages businesses to check out resources on their Kaua‘i Forward website at kauaiforward.com/business/#businesses.

  1. randy kansas October 9, 2020 2:27 am Reply

    bummer and very sad, but a lease it a lease …and a legal binding document, otherwise no agreement would be worth anything;

    maybe they can rebound somehow;

    If we leased a new Lexus and could not make the payment, would Lexus let us keep the car for free ?

    just remember all of these local politicians that have kept us shut down and destroyed the islands, next time you vote…

  2. Paul Simon October 9, 2020 7:42 am Reply

    You and your staff have done so much for the community, and you have been there with our ‘Ohana through our toughest times. I don’t know the business so I don’t know how to help personally, but I’m praying for you and your staff and hope someone just like you comes along with a solution for your situation, as you and yours worked tirelessly during the floods in April ‘18. Warmest Aloha, Jeff, and God bless.

  3. Joe Public October 9, 2020 9:00 am Reply

    Well, we all have to pay rent/mortgage, so why not you too? The property Owner has their own bills to take care of, nothing is free.

    1. Kaona October 10, 2020 5:08 am Reply

      Why wouldn’t the landlord want to try and work it out? She’d rather have an empty building, still with no rent coming in? Can the community give kokua to Ha through a Go Fund Me or just fundraise?
      All over, sad. Everybody gotta live.

  4. this is just the beginning October 9, 2020 9:54 am Reply

    the State and County’s mishandling of the pandemic will lead to many more business failures and unemployed.

  5. CommonSenseish October 9, 2020 2:01 pm Reply

    I’m confused? Was there a pre-agreement at the start of Covid and now they can’t meet that agreement? Or did that agreement become void or never received approval and this one is now resulting in an eviction? It’s going to sit there and be another empty office space on this island, so I don’t understand why they would do such a thing unless there is something we aren’t being told in this story. Pay your bills people!

  6. Ian Clark October 9, 2020 5:50 pm Reply

    What if people donated enough to pay a days rent. You’d only need 30 people per month. How mich is one days rent. I might help with one month once I lnow the amount.


    1. judi October 9, 2020 10:03 pm Reply

      Yes a Go Fund Me would most likely raise the needed funds I would help HA and his is the time to work together

  7. Native October 10, 2020 8:39 am Reply

    Maybe Zuckerberg would have the heart to use some of his billions to help out a local business. How bout it, Mark?

  8. Joe Public October 12, 2020 12:09 pm Reply

    Another one that wants everything for free, let someone live in your house if you have one) at no cost and see how long that works out for you.

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