Lower Puna businesses hope customers will flow back in
Boogie Woogie Pizza has been in business for 13 years but just laid off two-thirds of its employees.
PAHOA, Hawaii - More than six months after lava poured out of Leilani Estates, businesses in Lower Puna are still hanging on in hopes that customers will start flowing back in one day.
"People stopped coming, we've lost half the population, it's been really dismal," Leslie Lai, owner of Kaleo's, said.
Kaleo's Bar and Grill has been a pillar in Pahoa Town. Over the past 11 years, it has never been closed. Not a single day of the week, until September 2018.
"September and October had been slow, abnormally slow so we're closing on Tuesdays to catch up on our repairs, getting ready for the busy season," Lai said.
They're hoping that season still exists. Down the street, Boogie Woogie Pizza has been in business for 13 years but just laid off two-thirds of its employees.
Ophelia Kennealy, owner of Boogie Woogie Pizza has been trying any way possible to stay open.
"People are coming in asking "are you guys gonna close too?" We're trying really hard not to and don't expect to but we're just trying to find genius ways to make it work and hold out till something happens and the tourists start coming in and it'll help a lot," Kennealy said.
The question remaining is how long businesses will have to wait and can they? Several other restaurants on Pahoa's main drag have already shut down.
Lai hopes to see tourists floating back.
"We want the town to be alive again," she said.