Amid the upstart businesses, On On Chinese Restaurant has been a fixture of Kapahulu for the last three decades.
The most recent owner, Albert Lum, has managed the small, home-style diner for the past 10 years. Lum, 49, does not have to worry about the struggles of starting a new business in tough times, but On On has felt the economic strain.
Profits have been chopped by 40 percent. Diners buy less expensive dishes, shying away from $18.50 half Peking Duck and $16 lobster, opting instead for saucy entrees for less than half the price. About half of the regulars have dropped off, and those who still frequent the restaurant might come once a week instead of twice.
“It’s still enough to pay the bills. We just don’t make money,” said Lum, who sees anywhere from 40 to 100 customers a day. “We’re lucky we still own the restaurant.”