Before Hana Japanese Steak House opened, the owners filed for a liquor license with the hope the restaurant would be able to keep pace with other Guilderland establishments. More than nine months later, the license was finally granted.
The restaurant opened its doors on Christmas to see if it could take advantage of its new liquor license. Manager Charlie Cheng said the license could not have come at a better time.
The highly praised restaurant was even considering closing ts doors, despite the fact it was filling up booths.
If we weren't going to get our liquor license in the next few months, we might have had to shut down, Cheng said.
Hana opened May 8, and Cheng said the restaurant was initially doing well without the license. However, he said, after the novelty of a new restaurant wears off, usually after three months, it lives and dies by its product. As September rolled around and the economy began to worsen, Cheng said business began to drop, and Hana still did not have its license. Cheng estimated that the eatery lost 40 percent in business due to the lack of alcohol.
Cheng said a focus on providing a great product and service to the "die-hard regulars" made the difference in keeping Hana afloat.
"We can't really focus on the people not coming," he said.
Cheng blamed the burdensome bureaucratic process for the delay. A Hana in Plattsburgh received its license in two weeks when it applied three years ago.
Cheng said the Guilderland Hana did have a setback, in which it violated the "letter of the law" by allowing patrons to bring their own alcohol without a proper license, and that also could have contributed to the delay.
"I think if we didn't have a lawyer, the process would have gone on forever," Cheng said, but added, "I don't think it was anything personal."