WAILUKU - Front Street restaurants said their revenues were up between 20 and 41 percent over normal for Halloween this year, numbers that county officials said were better than expected.
Retail stores also reported a boost of 6.5 to 80 percent over normal sales, while most merchants also added employees for the evening, according to data gathered by the county Office of Economic Development.
"I was really happy with the outcome," said Economic Development Coordinator Teena Rasmussen.
Revelers walk Front Street during Halloween this year after organized festivities were suspended for four years. Lahaina merchants reported revenues were up between 20 and 41 percent, compared with Halloweens in the past.
Maui News file photo
County costs included a $16,500 grant to the LahainaTown Action Committee to organize and stage the event, as well as around $15,000 in security costs incurred by the Maui Police Department.
"We had just about 100 officers in the field that night," said Lahaina Patrol Capt. Clarence Kenui.
The Maui County Cultural Resources Commission denied permits for Halloween events for the previous four years, saying the increasingly raucous celebration was disrespectful to Hawaiian culture and inappropriate for the historic district of Lahaina. But earlier this year the administration of Mayor Alan Arakawa modified plans for the festivities to eliminate activities that required the commission's approval, and the event went forward.
Rasmussen said she was grateful that revelers were respectful and remained "exceptionally well behaved" on Halloween night.
"I really felt the community stepped up and made sure the event stayed under control," she said.
The county surveyed 19 merchants and vendors on their gross sales and man-hours for the week of Halloween. The results were released last week.
Among restaurants, Cool Cat Cafe reported sales up 20 percent; Captain Jack's Island Grill, 25 percent; Moose McGillycuddy's and Hard Rock Cafe Maui, 35 percent; Cheeseburger in Paradise, 40 percent; Lahaina Pizza Co., 41 percent.
The restaurants also reported that they staffed an average of 75 man-hours above normal.
Actual sales numbers were not reported by the merchants, who said the information was proprietary.
The Lahaina Yacht Club, whose restaurant was open to members only, reported gross sales up 96 percent over normal.
Roberts Hawaii reported sales up 50 percent.
In retail stores, ABC Store reported sales up by 6.5 percent over normal; Original Red Dirt Shirts, 10 percent; Lahaina Ice Cream Parlour, 20 percent; Whaler's General Store, 30 percent; Sir Wilfred's Coffee & Cigars, 80 percent.
In hotels, Pioneer Inn reported sales of 18 percent above normal; Lahaina Shores Beach Resort reported occupancy of 88 percent for Halloween night, compared to 62 percent occupancy for Oct. 29.
The Peter Lik Art Gallery reported sales up 5 percent; Wyland Gallery, 40 percent.
Even merchants not in the center of Lahaina town saw a boost, with Betty's Beach Cafe and Maui To Go Arts & Crafts, both at 505 Front Street, saying sales were up 5 and 10 percent, respectively.
"I expected everybody to have increases," Rasmussen said. "But I thought the actual increases were a little higher than I was expecting, particularly with the restaurants, and their man-hours were significantly higher than I thought they would be."
Hard Rock General Manager Brent Rumph said his restaurant saw a "marked increase" in sales on Halloween.
"It was a very lucrative day for us," he said.
Strong results over Halloween and other special events can be critical for the restaurant's yearlong success, he said.
"It really is exponential," he said. "It's the difference between making budget and missing budget."
Rumph said Hard Rock worked closely with the Office of Economic Development, police and the Maui Liquor Control Commission to make sure the night went smoothly.
The restaurant had security in place and implemented "very rigid procedures" at the door, including checking revelers' identification and not allowing anyone in with a mask, face paint or other costuming that made it difficult to confirm they had the right identification. The restaurant also denied alcohol service to customers who were already intoxicated, he said.
For the event to continue, and possibly expand to other holidays, Rumph said he judged that it was critical that merchants work together to keep it safe and under control. He said he was happy to forego some alcohol sales if that meant revelers kept their behavior appropriate.
"We didn't have one incident," he said. "It was a very safe, controlled, fun environment."
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.