According to the Hawaii Restaurant Association, $ 333,000 worth of gourmet meals, takeaway orders, drinks, and cocktails must still be purchased with gift cards already issued.
The deadline for using the Hawaii Restaurant Card – Business Holiday Card is 11:59 PM on Wednesday.
“Please visit your favorite restaurants,” said Sheryl Matsuoka, executive director of the HRA. “If you can dine, that would be great. If you can’t, take it out. If you can’t, buy a family pack and toss it in your freezer. “
Working with HRA and others, the state made the debit cards available to businesses for purchase in mid-November to further support Hawaii’s restaurant industry.
Businesses could buy the pre-loaded cards in denominations of $ 5 to $ 1,000 to give to their employees or customers over the holidays.
More than $ 1 million has been spent in restaurants with these cards. To date, however, there are still around 20,000 active cards with a total of $ 333,000 remaining.
This card is not the same as the $ 500 Hawaii Restaurant Card that the state issued free of charge to qualified unemployment insurance recipients under the CARES Act during the pandemic last fall.
This card followed the program but was made available to the private sector with support from local banks and corporations.
Although customer traffic is increasing, Matsuoka says many restaurants are still struggling to make up for last year’s losses. All of the dollars spent in restaurants help employees keep their jobs and support the rest of the food supply chain.
Matsuoka believes that most restaurant card holders simply forgot they had them and the time limit to use them.
“Look in your wallet and spend it,” she said. “Don’t let it expire.”