HONOLULU — Honolulu’s restaurant industry suffered another blow resulting from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic with the permanent closure of Chef Alan Wong’s King Street restaurant.
Wong announced a temporary suspension of operations in August, saying he hoped to reopen in several months.
Wong said Monday he decided to retire the 25-year-old restaurant on South King Street, but left open the possibility of opening another restaurant in the future.
“This is not the end,” Wong said. “Maybe in a better time, a better day, we’ll do something different. It’s time for a new chapter.”
Wong opened his restaurant in April 1995 and a year later it was nominated for a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for best new restaurant in the nation. Wong won the award for top chef in the Hawaii and Pacific Northwest region.
The restaurant was known for its cuisine as well as high-profile guests including former President Barack Obama and his family.
Prominent local chefs praised Wong and lamented the loss.
“I was very surprised because Alan Wong is like a godfather of the fusion Hawaii regional cuisine,” said Chef Chai Chaowasaree.
Chef and restaurateur Roy Yamaguchi said it was especially sad the closure was the result of circumstances Wong could not control.
“It’s one thing if you have to close for lack of business acumen or something like that, but when you lose something that has been great for so long and has done so much for the state of Hawaii, you hate to see that happen,” Yamaguchi said.