HONOLULU — The coronavirus pandemic is claiming a 170-year-old Hawaii institution: Love’s Bakery.
Hawaii’s oldest and largest commercial bakery told state and federal agencies this week that it will close its doors at the end of March and lay off more than 230 employees.
The company said it is behind on its rent, cannot secure additional capital and hasn’t qualified for the second round of federal Paycheck Protection Program funds aimed at helping companies struggling during the pandemic. It’s also experienced major delays from mainland suppliers for ingredients and parts for the company’s aging equipment.
“We have worked diligently to cut expenses, to maintain our market share and to remedy our operational difficulties, however under the current business environment we are no longer able to continue operations,” the company said in a statement Monday.
Love’s Bakery was started in 1851 by a Scottish baker who specialized in “re-baking” bread delivered from sailing ships.
The baker weathered outbreaks of the bubonic plague in the early 1900s and two world wars.
More people may have been buying bread to eat at home during the pandemic, but hotels and restaurants bought much less as Hawaii’s tourism traffic plummeted and public health restrictions limited eating out.
Love’s attorney, Chuck Choi, said the company lost more than 20% of its revenue last year.
The company also had difficulties before the pandemic.
“Love’s was the dominant commercial bakery in Hawaii for generations,” Choi said. “But it was losing sales due to increased competition and inefficiencies at its plant, which had some antiquated equipment.”
Love’s sells loaves, buns, bagels and English muffins and also distributes products under different brands.
The company will close its Kalihi plant and its retail outlets in Kaneohe, Hilo, Kahului, and Lihue.
Love’s has hired Oahu Auctions to auction off the company’s equipment and fixtures in April.