The Hawaii Restaurant Card program ends tonight

The Hawaii Restaurant Card, a debit card issued to qualified recipients in the state three months ago to increase sales, ends today at 11:59 pm

The program, a $ 75 million government stimulus initiative backed by government coronavirus relief funds, launched in mid-October and provides qualified Hawaiian residents with a $ 500 prepaid debit card each, which they can use in local Restaurants and restaurants can use.

As of this morning, a total of $ 64.1 million of the Hawaii Restaurant Card’s funds has been spent.

After 11:59 p.m., any remaining balance on the card will be returned to the state of Hawaii.

“It’s been a really nice upswing,” said Tom Jones of Gyotaku Japanese restaurant, who estimated his store saw sales grow 10%, mostly in take-out orders. “We saw a lot of card activity. That extra revenue really helps pay your bills. “

Jones said Gyotaku will be offering a 10% discount to anyone with the card through March 31.

“We’ve found it extremely successful for restaurants,” said Jones, also chair of the Hawaii Restaurant Association. “Unfortunately we had restaurants that still didn’t make it. There have been a lot of closings and that’s really sad … Unfortunately, there may be more that don’t make it. “

Jones hopes cardholders will have a few hours left to buy dinner tonight.

The Hawaii Restaurant Card allows you to purchase groceries and soft drinks at restaurants, eateries, and fast food outlets across the state.

The cards were mailed to Hawaii residents who filed an initial unemployment insurance claim with the Hawaiian Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on or after March 1 and who had confirmed that their job loss was due to the COVID-19 pandemic was, and a UI received benefits in September.

According to Food-a-Go-Go, operated by the Hawaii Agricultural Foundation, more than 132,000 Hawaii Restaurant Cards have been activated with more than 1.3 million transactions since last week.

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