On August 8, multiple fires swept through Maui, Hawaii, leaving a wake of loss and destruction. The damage was particularly acute in the historic town of Lahaina, in Western Maui. With over 100 lives claimed, 850 people still missing, and an estimated 3,000 homes and businesses destroyed or damaged, Lahaina’s tight-knit community has been deeply affected by this disaster.

For Lahaina restaurants and their employees, the loss has been devastating. The fires have destroyed their homes, livelihoods, and in some cases, taken loved ones. While the recovery process will be long, the resiliency of the restaurant industry is certain. Lahaina restaurants have rallied to fundraise for their employees, remained tough in the face of an unknown future, and tapped into the steadfast community around them.

Lahaina restaurants launch gofundme campaigns

The ownership group of Down the Hatch, a SpotOn Restaurant client, has created a Lahaina fire fund via gofundme to support the staff members whose homes have been destroyed and are still searching for family members. The group operates 5 restaurants in Maui, with 200 staff members. The owners hope to rebuild one day, but for now are focusing on helping their team by using the funds they raise to build tiny homes and provide essentials for their employees.

Another SpotOn Restaurant client, Miso Phat Kahana is fundraising to support their staff with living expenses as they rebuild their lives.

Likewise, Kealani Juice Co., a recently opened juice bar and SpotOn Restaurant client, was destroyed in the fire. The owners, the Aly family, have lost everything and are seeking permanent housing as they begin anew. Support the Aly family here via gofundme.

Michigan restaurant group raises funds for Hawaii

Beyond Maui, restaurants across the United States have answered the call for help and have come up with creative ways to lend their support. In Michigan, a 21-restaurant group, part of 4GR8Food, has come together to honor “the Aloha spirit” by donating all profits from their August 22 Day of Giving fundraiser to the Hawaii Restaurant Association Relief Fund and the American Red Cross Hawaii Wildfires Disaster Relief Fund.

With locations in the Grand Rapids area and Northern Michigan, restaurants like Grand Coney Diner, Red Geranium Cafe, and Omelette Shoppe donated all profits from food sales on August 22. They will also invite guests to donate directly to the Hawaii Restaurant Association Relief Fund and the American Red Cross Hawaii Wildfires Disaster Relief Fund.

“Hawaii is a beautiful state, and the families who live there thrive in the restaurant and hospitality sector, which is now destroyed,” said Jeff Lobdell, CEO of Restaurant Partners and vice-chair of the National Association of Restaurants. “They pour their hearts out to visitors, and these 21 Michigan restaurants are working to bring our community together in the ‘Aloha Spirit’ to help their fellow Americans. More than ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye,’ our ‘Aloha Spirit’ is an expression of love from our state to theirs, and an extension of warmth in caring with no obligation in return.”

Through the Hawaii Restaurant Association, you can find:

  • Crowdfunding efforts for restaurants impacted by the wildfires
  • Hawaii restaurants supporting Maui relief efforts by donating a percentage of their sales
  • A direct donation link to the Hawaii Restaurant Association relief effort.

Donations to the American Red Cross Hawaii Wildfires Disaster Relief Fund help provide aid to the hardest hit areas. Both organizations are committed to rebuilding the Hawaii restaurant industry and providing support to the people who make it exceptional.

SpotOn's efforts and how you can help

With the fate of many Maui restaurants and the community around them uncertain, SpotOn has made a donation to the Maui Food Bank and will be matching employee donations. For our impacted clients, we’re waiving their monthly costs, and when they're ready to rebuild, we’ll be there with free hardware and free installation to get them back up and running.

Thankfully, all SpotOn employees in Hawaii are safe and sound. They have additional Volunteer Time Off to focus their time on helping their neighbors and community.

If you’re looking for ways to support, the Hawai’i Restaurant Association is coordinating material and monetary donations. There are many online fundraising efforts, such as Down the Hatch’s gofundme, that aim to get funds directly in the hands of the people who need them. And World Central Kitchen is on the ground providing meals and working with local partners Chef Hui and Common Ground Collective.

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