Business

Q&A: What’s going on with Ben’s Hawaiian Cafe in Citrus Heights?

Ben's Hawaiian Cafe, Citrus Heights
An old food truck sits along Auburn Boulevard advertising for the now-closed Ben’s Huli Huli Chicken & Hawaiian Cafe. // CH Sentinel

Sentinel staff report–
Doors are locked. Unopened mail is strewn on the floor. The phone number doesn’t go through. And the faded green truck advertising the cafe sits in the parking lot along Auburn Boulevard with a yellow boot lock on one of its wheels.

So what’s going on with Ben’s Huli Huli Chicken and Hawaiian Cafe?

A little over a year after the cafe moved from Folsom to Citrus Heights, the business has closed. Multiple attempts to contact the owner, Kit Syn, over the past week were unsuccessful, but a neighboring business in the shopping plaza said the restaurant had been closed for over a month.

The once-popular Hawaiian barbecue joint at 7697 Auburn Blvd. had earned nearly 5-out-of-5 stars in online reviews, but on Nov. 15, 2017, the owner posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that he was struggling to keep the business open and was forced to reduce his hours to just three days a week.

“I’m doing everything I can to keep my dream alive and reducing the cafe hours is just something I have to do as a business owner. I hope you all understand and can be patient with me. My hope is that it’s only temporary until we get busier,” the post read. “I’m not proud to say this, but after 3 years in business, I’m out of working capital and reserves. It’s not easy for me to do this, but I realize that I need to ask for help.”

Syn said he was looking for someone to buy the cafe, or an investor who was willing to help him with a short term loan or an investment in a new line of pre-packaged Hawaiian foods and sauces that he recently launched. On Dec. 9, in a final update, Syn posted that he was selling the cafe.

“I’ve decided to sell the cafe so I can pursue and focus on building my product merchandising business,” said Syn. “Hopefully you’ll see my Teriyaki Ginger Beef Jerky, Asian Salad Dressing, Huli Huli marinade and other of my recipes in the shelves in the stores around the country. I’m currently working with a buyer who will be taking over everything and continuing my Hawaiian food concept.”

No updates have been posted since, leaving the question remaining as to whether the cafe will ever re-open under new ownership.

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