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Mark Ellman of Oceanfront restaurants in Maui.

Maui restaurateur Mark Ellman on life during the pandemic

Coping, caring, keeping the Aloha spirit alive during the coronavirus crisis

As part of our Stories from the Front Lines series, Restaurant Hospitality reached out to restaurateurs to share their experiences during the coronavirus crisis. Here, Mark Ellman, chef and owner of Honu and Frida’s Beach House on the Hawaiian island of Maui, shares his story.

Once I decided to close both our Oceanfront restaurants in Maui more than 2 weeks ago, I realized: I should be more scared than I am but I felt a calm come over me after Day 2.

I’ve drunk quite a few expensive bottles of Cabernet in the past two weeks along with my share of Siete Leguas Reposado [tequila], as well.

I have found myself filling out SBA disaster relief applications since Tuesday, March 31.


Applications for relief on Chef Mark Ellman's desk in Maui.

I have one employee right now, my office manager. Sadly, we had to lay off 140 people, so she has been doing paperwork for unemployment and COBRA and talking to vendors. Most are great.

Websites are crashing.

I glance at CNN about 20 times a day on my phone (maybe I should stop doing that).

There are a lot of scared people, not knowing the future. Nothing worse than uncertainty.

Handyman has been painting.

My daughters have wrapped all plates and silverware in Saran Wrap.

We had a free farmers market for our employees with food inventory that we would have to throw away. Better they enjoy it.


We washed out all the refrigerators and turned them off to save electricity.

NEVERTHELESS, the Aloha spirit is always here in Hawai’i.

The restaurant community is such a warm and comfortable place for me to be right now. Some of the best humans in the world.

To everyone out there – practice Aloha,

And F_ _ k the Corona Virus.

This is part of our Stories from the Front Lines series.

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