Irasshaimase!

Genki Sushi opens at Prince Kuhio Plaza

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - FRONT PAGE - By MICHAEL BRESTOVANSKY

Prince Kuhio Plaza on Thurs­day wel­comed its new­est ad­di­tion dur­ing a rib­bon-cut­ting for Ja­panese res­tau­rant Genki Sushi.

The Hilo res­tau­rant, which hosts its grand open­ing to­day, is the sushi chain’s sec­ond lo­ca­tion on the Big Is­land. The other res­tau­rant is in Kailua-Kona.

Mary Hansen, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer for Genki Sushi, said that, of the eight lo­ca­tions in the state, only the Hilo res­tau­rant fea­tures the most up­dated ver­sion of the chain’s sig­na­ture ex­press tech­nol­ogy used to or­der and de­liver food.

The up­dates to the sys­tem in­clude touch­screen tablets at each ta­ble and bench seat with which pa­trons can place or­ders, as well as two rails for the res­tau­rant’s sig­na­ture “trains” to trans­port dishes from the kitchen to wait­ing cus­tomers, Hansen said.

“The goal for us is to get food out hot and fresh,” said man­ager Kim Mo­rante. “It’s not quite a fast-food res­tau­rant. I’d call it more a ‘fast-serv­ing’ place.”

De­spite the ef­fi­ciency of the au­to­mated sys­tem, there is no short­age of work­ers at the res­tau­rant. Mo­rante said the res­tau­rant em­ploys about 70 peo­ple, in­clud­ing chefs, wait­staff and man­agers.

Mo­rante said the em­ploy­ees have un­der­gone five hours of train­ing each day for more than a week in or­der to adapt to the res­tau­rant’s unique sys­tem and de­velop group co­he­sion. In a holdover from the res­tau­rant’s Ja­panese ori­gins, staff call “irasshaimase” — mean­ing “wel­come” — in uni­son to greet pa­trons.

Mall man­ager Daniel Kea said he was ex­cited for Genki Sushi to fi­nally open.

“We’re happy they’re here,” Kea said. “It’s been a long time com­ing. It took about two years to get through ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

The res­tau­rant is the first busi­ness to oc­cupy a new build­ing at Prince Kuhio Plaza. The build­ing stands on the for­mer site of Hilo Hat­tie, which was de­mol­ished in 2016 af­ter the sou­venir store closed in 2015.

Kea said the re­main­der of the build­ing will be oc­cu­pied by a Ver­i­zon Wire­less branch and an undis­closed food vendor. Depend­ing on the vendor, Kea said, there might be ad­di­tional space in the build­ing left over for a fourth ten­ant.

The Ver­i­zon store is sched­uled to open in Novem­ber, but Kea said he ex­pects its open­ing to be de­layed un­til De­cem­ber. Mo­rante said the grand open­ing event to­day will fea­ture bal­loons for chil­dren and the chance to win prizes by play­ing games. The event will take place from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

HOLLYN JOHN­SON/ Tri­bune-Her­ald

Ravyn Dalere ex­plains the touch-screen or­der­ing sys­tem to a cus­tomer Thurs­day at Genki Sushi at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo. The res­tau­rant opens to the pub­lic to­day at 11 a.m.

HOLLYN JOHN­SON/Tri­bune-Her­ald

The new Genki Sushi fea­tures a touch-screen or­der­ing sys­tem.

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