What Restaurants Want You to Know: Here’s How You Can Help Maxed-Out Eateries

Long lines and wait times are the new reality of COVID. We asked restaurant owners and managers for their best advice for eaters.


Piggy Smalls Lianne Rozzelle

The dining room at Piggy Smalls. Photo: Lianne Rozzelle


Summer’s here and with case counts trending in our favor (knock wood), eaters in a mood to celebrate are returning to restaurants in force. In ordinary times that would be good news right there, but at eateries dealing with unprecedented worker shortages and government-mandated capacity restrictions, that can mean long lines and wait times.


There are simple ways eaters can ease the experiencenot just for themselves, but for other diners and maxed-out restaurants. We polled owners and managers around Honolulu for their best win-win advice.


Call orders in early

Lots of my customers call their order in around 9 or 10 a.m. for pickup at 11 or after. If it’s really busy and you walk in, there could be 10 to 15 tickets ahead of you and I will honestly tell my walk-ins it’s probably a 45-minute to one-hour wait. The smaller the establishment, the smaller the crew. For us it’s just three pairs of hands going as fast as we can. —Minaka Urquidi, Ethel’s Grill


Call if you’re running late

Respect the restaurant’s dining time limit if there is one. And be patient: There may be only one person making lunch for the entire restaurant. —Keaka Lee, Kapa Hale


Be on time

We are having lots of no-shows and last-minute reservation cancellations. —Hyun Kim, O’Kims Korean Kitchen


Please be patient when you dine in

and respect your reservation time. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination to make things work and with a lack of staff we are all trying our best. —Alex Le, The Pig & The Lady, Piggy Smalls


Place orders online for pickup

Our menu is also on our website with descriptions, so it’s great to start checking it out before heading down or while waiting in line (we have QR codes placed along the order line). —Chris Iwamura, Rainbow Drive-In


If you place an order online

or are picking one up for someone else, please come ready with your check or order number and know what was ordered. It’s OK to call with questions but please use the online ordering link and view the menu from there instead of asking for someone to walk you through the menu over the phone. —Alejandro Briceno, ‘Ili‘ili Cash & Carry


Make your reservation at least a week in advance

—Hide Yoshimoto, Izakaya Torae Torae


Call ahead to see if you need a reservation

and if you do, make it ASAP. If you cannot make it, please cancel your reservation. Do not just no showa restaurant may have turned down multiple tables to hold yours. —Jennifer Ohara, Karai Crab


Be compliant and patient

Not every restaurant has the same rules. The city and state set out mandates we have to follow, then each establishment sets out rules that work best for their environment. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of other guests every shift, and workers who need to stay healthy to keep the restaurant open. If the restaurant is already short-staffed, having even one staff member out sick throws a huge wrench in the system. —Jennifer Ohara, Karai Crab


It may sound harsh, but don’t overstay your welcome

Everyone is happy to get together and see one another, and restaurants are happy to host, but we are all operating at a reduced capacity and need to make up for a year and a half of losses, so we need that table back to make back a few more dollars. —Jennifer Ohara, Karai Crab