HONOLULU - A controversial liquor store in Chinatown is on the verge of losing its liquor license. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell testified at the Liquor Commission meeting on Thursday afternoon, asking the commission to revoke Maunakea Liquor & Grocery's license.

Cathy Lee of the Honolulu Liquor Commission explained, “That hearing allowed Maunakea Liquor & Grocery the opportunity to present their case (due process), while offering an opportunity to the community to voice their support or opposition regarding that establishment. 

As a regulatory agency within the City & County of Honolulu, the Honolulu Liquor Commission’s role is to not shut businesses down; rather, our responsibility is to fairly evaluate license renewals for Honolulu’s liquor establishments. 

This afternoon’s hearing received a large amount of complaints pouring in from frustrated residents and business owners regarding illegal activity occurring at or near Maunakea Liquor & Grocery.  At this time, the Honolulu Liquor Commission’s priority is to address the public safety and welfare of the Chinatown neighborhood by seeking a remedy for the community.

As a result of the overwhelming public outcry, the Honolulu Liquor Commission’s position is that action must be taken regarding that establishment.  The agency has decided to file a petition to not renew Maunakea Liquor & Grocery’s liquor license.”

For months, residents and businesses complained of homelessness and crime, and say the store fueled the problem. Opponents say the store sold alcohol 24 hours a day - and its retail permit only allows sales until midnight- as well as accuse the store of selling to minors. They also allege some of its customers walk  out to the sidewalk and yell or harass pedestrians.

Mayor Caldwell agrees, and said he asked for the permit to be revoked because "it's such an attraction to people at all hours of the day and night who end up going there drinking and causing all kinds of problems. It'll reduce some of those challenges."

Maunakea Liquor owner John Kim told KITV4 it's unfair to target him and that he's shocked by the decision. He says he'll be shortening his store hours, to close at 11:30 p.m.

Now, the commission is in the process of filing a petition to revoke the license. Maunakea Liquor will have an opportunity to appeal the decision, should he lose the petition. Kim said he would like to appeal if it gets to that point.