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Hawai‘i Restaurant Card hailed as a ‘win-win-win’

Posted on Oct 28, 2020 in Capitol Connection, Featured
Governor Ige joined advocates for the launch of the new Hawai‘i Restaurant Card.

Governor Ige joined advocates for the launch of the new Hawai‘i Restaurant Card.

For thousands of Hawai‘i’s jobless residents, restaurants and suppliers hardest hit by the pandemic, some good news has arrived in time for the holidays. A pre-loaded $500 debit card — called a “win-win-win” for the unemployed, local restaurants and the entire local supply chain of farmers, fishers and ranchers — has been mailed statewide. The new Hawai‘i Restaurant Card Program, funded with $75 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF), is aimed at helping those who received unemployment benefits in September. The cards are valid until Dec. 15 and can be used statewide at any local restaurant. “We wanted to create a program to help as many people as possible,” said the governor at a news conference at Highway Inn. The program is a public-private partnership with the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

The state’s partnership with the business community was praised by Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i, and Denise Hayashi Yamaguchi, executive director of the Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation. Without help, some 60 percent of Hawai‘i restaurants were expected to shut down for good because of the pandemic, Menor-McNamara said. Monica Toguchi Ryan, owner of Highway Inn, said the restaurant card initiative is “exactly what our restaurants need right now. When you make the choice to support local restaurants, you’re also choosing to invest in our communities.” For more details on the program, go to

Read more in the November Capitol Connection newsletter

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