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Eatery and shop happy with ease of rules

Jasmine Juan added four tables to the family restaurant floor plan, after learning Maui County is allowing establishments to operate at greater capacity.

Ichiban Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Kahului can now seat around 25 customers at any given time, which is “not much but it’s better than 30 percent,” said Juan, reflecting about the recent rule change allowing businesses to expand from 30 percent to 50 percent maximum capacity based on square footage.

The change in rules went into effect Sunday at 11:59 p.m. for retail stores, restaurants, bars, and other food establishments, providing hope for business owners across the Valley Isle amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of people at one table can be no more than 10. Group sizes within a bar also increased from five to 10.

Juan said she received the county update from Mayor Michael Victorino personally as he dined in at the restaurant this past weekend.

She added, “It’s awesome,” that restaurants, bars, food courts, commercial events and luau are now also allowed to stay open until 11 p.m. The rules previously called for closing at 10 p.m. with no entry for takeout service after 11 p.m.

“This will be great for us because that means we can start bringing back happy hour,” Juan said Monday afternoon. She said details needed to be worked out and an announcement from the restaurant will be made in the coming weeks.

Juan recently left her position at Lineage in Wailea and decided to work full time to help manage operations for her parents and Ichiban owners Sibley and Zaida Juan amid the pandemic.

“It’s been good, I’m still learning,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed meeting new people that come in and seeing new faces. All the local customers have been really supportive.”

Soley Aloha Boutique & Gallery co-owner Billie Soley said Monday that the slow easement of Maui County rules boosts overall morale and gives local businesses owners optimism and hope for the future.

The family-owned shop in Paia is not significantly impacted by the increased capacity limits, because the store space is already small and social distancing protocols still need to be met.

But overall, Soley applauded the easing of the rules.

“I just think it’s great for the small businesses who have struggled,” Soley said.

The shop was averaging about 10 customers per day in December and has seen a slight incline in the past few months.

When the pandemic hit last year, Soley noted how they pivoted their attention and efforts into the store’s online presence and said “it’s exciting to finally see the work pay off.”

With the recent county rule changes to allow a group of 10 people to gather outdoors, provided that face coverings are worn and physical distancing of at least 6 feet is maintained between separate groups, Soley said she looks forward to possibly bringing back small events to the Boutique & Gallery outdoor space.

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.

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