KHON TV - Talks with Michael Staffing, pandemic restrictions impacting services in Hawaii tourism industry

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many did not expect tourism to pick up as quickly as it did.

Businesses are facing the challenge of staffing and balancing the restrictions still in place.

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Some visitors have noticed changes to service at restaurants and hotels — industries that are still looking to hire.

“We’ve been in several places that only had half the tables filled with people still waiting in line, so obviously they just don’t have enough staff to keep up with everybody,” said Tim Gentry of Oklahoma.

Hawaii residents want better management of booming tourism industry

“Room service is every four days, so we’ve noticed that, but whenever we needed something we’ve been able to communicate that with the front desk and there’s been someone there helping us,” said Jena who is visiting from California.

Tiki’s Bar and Grill says there are longer wait times not only because of staffing but also due to capacity issues.

Hawaii tourism industry launches campaign targeting ‘mindful travelers’ as more visitors arrive

“We have a six-foot distancing that’s going on. We can’t service the amount of guests that we have coming in,” said Director of Operations and partner of Tiki’s Grill and Bar Michael Miller.

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii says there are several reasons for the workforce shortage.

Hotel prices to rise while availability decreases as travel and tourism heats up

“From personal safety, to those who are still leveraging the federal unemployment insurance plus up, child care,” said President and CEO Sherry Menor-McNamara. “Also, we had an influx of visitors arrive in Hawaii and I think that outpaced the time that businesses were able to prepare for workers to return to the workplace.”

Businesses are doing what they can and had to get creative to manage the influx of visitors.

“One of the changes that we had to do was, increase the pay for our host team. That was one of the more challenging positions to hire. And so, that’s increased. Some of the cooks pays have increased,” said Miller.

“You have everything from management setting up tables, taking down. Also, doing some of the work that you’d have in place that your entire labor of forces. So it varies from hotel to hotel,” said Mufi Hannemann of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association. “I will say this, we’d rather be experiencing the problems we feel now, with respect to opening up, as opposed to being shut down and wondering when we’re going to open.”

Many visitors are understanding, for the most part.

“There’s so many wonderful beautiful things you can do in Hawaii. Hawaii speaks for itself, so the fact that you have to wait longer at a restaurant I don’t think would affect my recommendation of visiting Hawaii at all,” said Jena.

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Bloomberg - Photo and Quote Tiki’s

Tiki’s Grill & Bar, one of many restaurants in Waikiki facing a labor shortage.
Source: Tiki’s Grill & Bar

“We have a minimum of 10 job openings, which is unheard of,” says Michael Miller, director of operations at the locally-owned Tiki’s Grill & Bar. “And people aren’t even coming in for interviews.”

To read the full story:

Everyone’s Going to Hawaii, and the Resorts Aren’t Ready

Jen Murphy

State authorities hoped to create a more sustainable future for tourism after the pandemic, but the opposite is ...

Mahalo Nui Loa, 

Michael Miller / Director of Operations / Partner

Tiki's Grill & Bar -  2570 Kalakaua Ave.
808-923-8454          Honolulu, HI 96815 @Tikisgrill #Tikisgrill 

Winner of 2020 Travelers' Choice top 10% of restaurants worldwide
Tiki's Now Open! 

K6K: King Kamehameha Celebration PROMO VIDEO

K6K: King Kamehameha Celebration

Special Event Station
HAWAII TIME: Friday, June 11, 2021, 06:00 am HST - 10:00 pm HST ( May run till midnight)
UTC TIME:    Friday, June 11, 2021, 16:00 UTC - Sat, Jun 12, 2021, 10:00 UTC

Amateur Radio Operators will activate special-event station K6K to celebrate King Kamehameha the Great and Hawai’i’s rich history.  K6K special event station will give HAMS a chance to add Hawaii to their logs to earn WAS or DXCC awards.

After hearing about the cancellation of all King Kamehameha Celebration parade events statewide, Michael Miller - KH6ML, a community emergency coordinator, spoke with amateur radio operators and a few people with the Commission to see if there was a level of interest to make the event happen. 

This station is authorized by the King Kamehameha Celebration Commission as an official event.

This event will give volunteer Hawaii Operators the chance to test their communications equipment and skills and be ready to assist when the cell phone and the internet fail.  

Successful radio contacts are eligible to receive a special and inscribed certificate bearing the full-color rendition of K6K: King Kamehameha Celebration.

The Kamehameha Day Holiday was proclaimed by King Kamehameha I’s grandson, Lot Kapuāiwa - King Kamehameha V, in 1871, followed by an inaugural celebration of events on June 11, 1872. Years later, in 1939, the Commission was formed under the Hawai‘i Territorial Legislature. 

The FCC allows special-event stations to recognize and promote activities, services, or events of a historical or uniquely appealing nature. A special call sign is issued for a limited duration to identify the station. K6K was requested and granted. During this time, stations from around the islands and the world will try and make contact. 

TO VIEW A SHORT CLIP OF 2020 lei draping and short history

Operating Rules:

  • This is not a contest. The idea is to allow as many operators as possible to reach the contact station operators and learn about King Kamehameha the Great and why he is celebrated in Hawai’i. 

  • All radio operators must operate their stations strictly in accordance with their countries’ or FCC regulations. Any authorized amateur radio frequency may be used.

  • Stations should listen for K6K calling “CQ K6K”

  • The main modes will be SSB, FM, FT-8, and Winlink. Other Modes maybe be added.

  • QSLS: eQSLs are available via LOTW. NO Paper QSLs.

  • CERTIFICATES: Are self-printed (by you) for contacts with our Special Event Station. If you contact our Special Event Station, look up your call sign on the following link and print your own certificate: Link to follow. Please allow 30 days for all logs to be processed.

For more than 100 years, Amateur Radio — also called ham radio — has allowed people from all walks of life to experiment with electronics and communications techniques, as well as provide a free public service to their communities during a disaster or emergency, all without needing a cell phone or the Internet. 750,000 amateur radio licensees in the US, and an estimated 3 million worldwide. Throughout COVID-19, HAMS around the world have continued to be on the air practicing their skills, in part as a way to help stay connected. 

For more info:  Or email 

Operators that are lending their kokua to make this happen are:


K6K: King Kamehameha Celebration

Hawaii DX

Special Event Amateur Radio Station

Friday, June 11, 2021 (16:00 UTC)

For more info:  Or email

what it takes to make our Calamansi Martini


Check out the video we prepared showing you what it takes to make our Calamansi Martini.

What's in it~ 
Local Pau Maui Vodka made with Pineapple, House-made Calamansi syrup, Fresh Squeezed Calamansi juice, & a halved Calamansi to add more flavor. 

Mahalo Nui Loa, 

Michael Miller / Director of Operations / Partner

Tiki's Grill & Bar -  2570 Kalakaua Ave.
808-923-8454          Honolulu, HI 96815 @Tikisgrill #Tikisgrill 

Winner of 2020 Travelers' Choice top 10% of restaurants worldwide
Tiki's Now Open! 

Lechon Kawali - Filipino Food Week Hawaii.

>>On The Menu<<

Lechon Kawali

Adobo braised and crisped pork belly, garlic rice, lomi lomi tomatoes, & island-grown long beans.

A little about Filipino Food Week from Filipino Food Week Hawaii.

"In commemoration of the 75th year of the establishment of the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States, this year’s Filipino Food Week shall focus on the ways Filipino cuisine has enriched Hawaii's culinary landscape. Restaurants across the State will be offering special Filipino dishes that combine both Filipino and Hawaiian influences. The event culminates with Pusong Filipinx Market on June 13 at the Bishop Museum, where attendees can shop Filipino food and other Philippine-inspired products."

Created by Chef Ronnie & the culinary team to highlight and celebrate this rich cultural heritage in Hawaii for Filipino Food Week. 

>>On The Menu<<

Lechon Kawali

Adobo braised and crisped pork belly, garlic rice, lomi lomi tomatoes, & island-grown long beans.




Mahalo Nui Loa, 

Michael Miller / Director of Operations / Partner

Tiki's Grill & Bar -  2570 Kalakaua Ave.
808-923-8454          Honolulu, HI 96815 @Tikisgrill #Tikisgrill 

Winner of 2020 Travelers' Choice top 10% of restaurants worldwide
Tiki's Now Open! 

News:The Pandemic Has Turned Us Into Big Tippers. How Long Will That Last? - Honolulu Civil Beat

Denby Fawcett: The Pandemic Has Turned Us Into Big Tippers. How Long Will That Last? - Honolulu Civil Beat

Restaurateur Michael Miller said servers from other restaurants — some of them out of work themselves — would come into his Tiki’s Grill and Bar in Waikiki to support his staff.

“Everyone knows that waiters tend to overtip other waiters because they know what they are going through, but during the pandemic their tips to their colleagues were bigger than normal, even though the people giving so generously were struggling themselves,” said Miller, director of operations and a partner in the popular restaurant on the second floor of the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel.

He said some customers have given such huge tips that his servers went back to the table to ask if it had been a mistake.

Tiki’s Grill waiter Colby Harris told me in a phone call about the party of 10 from Texas who tipped him $180 on a prix fixe Thanksgiving dinner. Then, after paying their bill, they ordered another round of drinks and paid him another $200 tip.

“My tip from that one group was almost $400. I was super surprised,” said Harris.

Mahalo Nui Loa, 

Michael Miller / Director of Operations / Partner

Tiki's Grill & Bar -  2570 Kalakaua Ave.
808-923-8454          Honolulu, HI 96815 @Tikisgrill #Tikisgrill 

Winner of 2020 Travelers' Choice top 10% of restaurants worldwide
Tiki's Now Open! 

Kids Cooking Local At Home: Local Chefs Teach Families How To Cook

Kids Cooking Local At Home: Local Chefs Teach Families How To Cook

Learn how to cook with local ingredients and pantry staples

Rainbow Waldorf Salad "To Go".

Demonstrated by Chef Ronnie Nasuti from Tiki’s Grill & Bar


• 1 red apple
• 1 lemon
• 1 cup of red grapes
• 1 stalk of celery
• 1 small head of lettuce
• 1 cup plain white yogurt
• 1 tsp honey
• 1 cup cooked quinoa
• ¼ cup toasted walnuts
• 16 oz clear container (such as Mason jar, cleaned out spaghetti sauce jar, clear plastic cup, etc.). This is needed to “layer” the salad.


1. Cook the quinoa ahead of time
2. Cut the apples into small piece, then toss the apples in lemon juice to acidulate them and stop oxidation.
3. Cut celery into small pieces
4. Slice up lettuce
5. Layer the ingredients into 16 oz container(s) as follows dividing the ingredients evenly into each jar:
a. yogurt
b. grapes
c. lettuce
d. quinoa
e. celery
f. apples
g. walnuts
6. Seal & refrigerate until ready to eat! Shake jar before eating to mix ingredients.


Honolulu, HI ­– The Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation (HAF) announces the release of its Kids CookingLocal At Home (KCL At Home) video series – virtual cooking lessons featuring local chefs cooking up healthy recipes with local ingredients while making the most of affordable staple items and Hawai‘i’s favorite canned goods. Local chefs featuring chef Ronnie Nasuti of Tiki’s Grill & Bar. Learn how to make easy-to-follow recipes such as 13 videos are now available online at

Chef Ronnie Nasuti
Tiki’s Grill and Bar

Since the age of 13, Executive Chef Ronnie Nasuti has been working in restaurants where he started his humble beginnings as a dishwasher in a rural suburb of Boston.  After moving to Hawaii in his early 20s, he started at the Roy’s Park Bistro in Waikiki where he learned every station and even did 24 hour room service and pastry.  He then came to the flagship restaurant in Hawaii Kai and eventually went on to become the Roy’s Poipu Bar & Grill Sous Chef on Kauai, before returning to Roy’s Hawaii Kai as the Executive Sous Chef and later as Executive Chef. Chef Ronnie now hangs his hat at Tiki’s Grill & Bar and is excited to be a part of the team as Executive chef in this fun and exciting Waikiki restaurant.


KCL At Home was initially created to move HAF’s Kids Cooking Local (KCL) program to a virtual setting due to COVID-19 restrictions. KCL addresses the need to provide vulnerable communities and families who may be experiencing food insecurity with access to healthy food and to teach healthy eating. In partnership with After-School All-Stars (ASAS) and Boys and Girls Club Hawai‘i (BGCH), KCL serves students from six Title I schools on O‘ahu – ‘Ilima Intermediate School, William P. Jarrett Middle School, King David Kalākaua Middle School, Nānākuli High & Intermediate School, Waiʻanae Intermediate School, and Washington Middle School. Each week, KCL students bring home a bag of ingredients to follow the virtual cooking at home and create the meal with their families. By providing a bag of ingredients and local produce to the students, families gain accessibility to fresh, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables that might normally be cost-prohibitive.


“We’re excited to share Kids Cooking Local At Home with our community,” says Denise Yamaguchi, HAF Executive Director. “We know that many families have been struggling as we try to navigate our way out of the pandemic, and we hope that these videos can help families spend more quality time together, cooking at home and learning about our local agriculture, and how to cook with the local produce that’s readily available in our communities.


To watch and cook along with Kids Cooking Local At Home, go to and register for a free account.


About Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation
The Hawai‘i Agricultural Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization created to promote agriculture and farming. Established in 2007, HAF’s mission is to support and sustain Hawai‘i’s agricultural industry by addressing critical needs and services of farmers and the agricultural industry in Hawai‘i, and by better connecting the farmers with the community and vice-versa. For more information, visit

Rainbow Waldorf Salad "To Go".

Video Michael Speaking to the news Hawaii graduation parties still on hold, restaurants see uptick

by: Nikki Schenfeld

Posted: May 21, 2021 / 06:30 PM HST / Updated: May 21, 2021 / 06:30 PM HST

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Graduation season is underway and many families are finding new ways to celebrate safely with fewer restrictions in place then in 2020.

It is the second year in a row that large graduation parties have been put on hold due to COVID-19.

[Hawaii news on the go–LISTEN to KHON 2GO weekday mornings at 7:30 a.m.]

Restrictions for social gatherings are still in effect.

Ten people can gather inside and outside on Oahu, ten people can gather inside and 25 can gather outside on Hawaii Island, five can gather indoors and 25 people can gather outdoors on Kauai and ten people can gather inside and outdoors on Maui.

“We do have some rule changes that we’re asking for, but those have not been approved yet [by Gov. David Ige], said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth. “So, when people are out we just ask that it’s better to be outdoors than indoors and to be safe. And follow the rules that have really been in place all along. We want our kids to have fun, but we want them to be safe.”

Pre-COVID, the Pagoda Hotel would sell out its three balrooms every graduation season one year in advance. They have two graduation parties in the books as of Friday, May 21.

“Our ballroom right now, it usually can fit 400 people, but because of COVID, we have to social distance them six feet apart,” explained Darlene Leones-Akiu, catering sales manager at Pagoda Hotel. “So right now we’re only doing 100 people, we can’t serve a buffet, so we’re doing stations where we actually have our staff serve the food, or you could do a set menu.”

She says it is tough because people are not allowed to dance or mingle between tables.

“We have a lot of call inquiries for next year already hoping, hoping we get back to normal,” she added.

Leones-Akiu says they had a lot of bookings earlier in the year for the 2021 graduation season, but the uncertainty of tiers forced them to cancel.

Many families in the meantime have opted for outdoor restaurant reservations.

“We have absolutely seen an uptick in reservations,” explained Michael Miller, director of operations at Tiki’s Bar and Grill in Waikiki.

“We’re seeing people wanting people to be more intimate, maybe only inviting the grandparents or the real close family friends,” he explained.

He recommended parties of four or more make reservations well in advance at all restaurants across the state due to the high demand.

“We’re getting close, and as more people get vaccinated, there’s more hope for bigger changes in the future,” Mayor Roth added. “So we’re hoping that people continue to get vaccinated because the higher that percentage is, the more likely it is we can start dropping a lot more of our restrictions.”