Saturday, November 12, 2011

Failed Nightclub Owner is a Shameless Self-Promoter

Elizabeth Hata-Watanabe, a self -promoter spins
the truth about her unfortunate circumstances
Oahu resident Liz Hata-Watanabe self identifies as an “entrepreneur” and “philanthropist” – and sometimes she plays the “Mommy” card.  If anything, she’s a self-promoter extraordinaire: a bankrupt  law-breaking spouse of a cop with a track record of little ROI.

Liza Hata-Watanabe was busted for 
serving alcohol to minors & 
hiding ledgers from regulators

Do a simple Google search on Hata-Watanabe (see aliases below) and at first glance, it looks like she is a successful, connected, upstanding business woman who cares about community and kids.  But if one digs a little deeper, it’s clear that underneath all that too-good-to-be-true PR exterior are troubling issues.  This Mommy's a wolf in sheeps clothing!

O Lounge for sale after 5 years in operation

By Nina Wu
The O Lounge on Kapiolani Boulevard is up for sale after five years in business. Owner Elizabeth Hata Watanabe says it's been a good run, but her priorities have shifted since her second son, now 3 months old, was born.

"It's gotten tough," she said. "Any business is a 24/7 job, and this type of industry requires someone to be there."

Unlike other clubs, Hata Watanabe said there are no other partners or investors.

The 9,764-square-foot O Lounge space is listed for sublease at $10,740 a month, including two large bar areas and a full kitchen.

"The O Lounge does very, very well with our fundraisers and charitable events," said Hata Watanabe. "We have private bookings until the end of the year that we're going to accommodate, and by selling, I'm able to pass this on to someone else."...

The Truth is...
O Lounge Nightclub
  • Hata-Watanabe’s (EHW, LLC) O Lounge had repeatedly been cited and fined by the Honolulu Liquor Commission (HLC) for serving alcohol to minors.  Repeatedly!
  • Hata-Watanabe’s O Lounge had been the subject of increasingly more punitive action by HLC after repeated offenses including numerous instances of serving minors.  And at the time the article referenced above was published, her liquor license had been suspended and she was on probation.
  • Hata-Watanabe failed for four years to make the O Lounge books available for inspection by HLC.  This would imply that since she originally opened the O Lounge doors, she had likely never allowed inspection of the books.  What was she hiding?  She certainly wasn't running a Studio 54 scam?
  • Hata-Watanabe made the decision to shutter the O Lounge because she had a suspended liquor license, the possibility of a revoked license and pending HLC inspection of her books which she feared.  That she says she put the O Lounge on the market was a silly PR smoke-screen to protect her carefully crafted image.  She was covering up the severity of her failed circumstances as the operator of a night club.

Harbor Court Bistro
  • Hata-Watanabe (EHW-II, LLC) applied for and obtained a temporary liquor license for a certain class of operation (restaurant) at Harbor Court Bistro which she'd previously opened and then once she had the temporary license in hand, took liberties to operate the space at Harbor Court Bistro in a way that required a different class of license (nightclub).  She knew what she was doing. (Star-Bulletin Blogger unknowingly document the very incident that got Hata-Watanabe in trouble with HLC)
  • Hata-Watanabe's temporary liquor license at Harbor Court Bistro was terminated/revoked.  Yes, residents of the building in which the Bistro was located signed a complaint/petition urging HLC to revoke or deny the license but the fact that Hata-Watanabe/O Lounge was already under escalating scrutiny by the Honolulu Liquor Commission had to be a contributing factor. Perhaps someone even encouraged the residents' petition to substantiate termination and avoid further adjudication.
  • Hata-Watanabe made the poor business decision to open the Bistro without a liquor license in hand. Reportedly she had invested half-a-million dollars in the Bistro before she had a license.  One must wonder how she explained that to investors who must have taken a bath. All the publicity Hata-Watanabe captures for herself suggests she's a smart business person; then consider the circumstances in which someone with the experience she claims and her conservative GOP credentials puts the cart before the horse.

Officer Kevin T. Watanabe
Of particular note, while Liz Hata-Watanabe was serving liquor to minors and hid her financial books from the Honolulu Liquor Commission, her husband Kevin T. Watanabe was a 20+ year veteran officer with the Honolulu Police Department.

For reference, these are some off the aliases for Liz Hata-Watanabe: Elizabeth C. Watanabe, Elizabeth Hata Watanabe, Elizabeth Hata-Watanabe, Elizabeth H. Watanabe, Liz Watanabe.

Pacific Business News articles featuring Hata-Watanabe:

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