Okinawan Owned Restaurants

Maybe some of you MLCers can shed some light on this, but lately I’ve noticed that a lot of the old restaurants around town where owned and run by Okinawan families.  Me, being half Uchinanchu (Okinawan), I take pride in the fact that my ancestors were great cooks.  So how come I don’t know how cook?  (Let’s not go there…).  So anyway, I found this list of restaurants that were run and owned by Uchinanchu.  See if you recognize any of them.


KC Car Hop


Aiea Grill – Aiea-Moanalua Rd. – Jane K. Nakasone
Aloha Hotdog Stand – 140 N. Hotel St. – Matsudo Nakasone Ishikawa
Arthur’s Flamingo Dowtown and Coffeeshop – Davies Pacific Center
Bea’s Drive In – 2840 Kapi‘olani Blvd, near Kaimuki H. S. – Bea Miyashiro/ Shimabukuro
Café 100 – 969 Kilauea Ave., Hilo – Richard & Evelyn Miyashiro
Café Bon Bon ?? – 907 Alakea St.
Café Flamingo – 574 Ala Moana Blvd. – Steven Nagamine
Café Skylark – S. Tengan
Central Café – S. Yara
Central YMCA Cafeteria – James Nako
College Walk Inn – Corner College Walk & Kukui St. – Taro & Kamechiya Shiroma
Crow’s Nest – 2244 Kalakaua Ave. – Kenny Kaneshiro
Dains Inn – Y. Nakasone
Denver Grill – Makishi
Denver Grill – K. Makishi
Donald Duck Drive Inn – Kapi‘olani Blvd. Across Kaimui H.S. – Y. Nako
Eagle Café (A) – Chaplain Lane/Blaisdell Hotel – George & Teruko Teruya
Eagle Café (B) – Nu‘uanu at Pauahi, Mauka/Kokohead corner – George & Teruko Teruya
Evelyn’s Lunch Service – Yasuo Gusgi
Evelyn’s Lunch Service #1 – 2856 Ualena St. – Yasuo Gushi
Evelyn’s Lunch Service #2 – 1020 Auahi St. – Yasuo Gushi
Evergreen Café – Kapi‘olani Bl. – Harry Uyehara
Flamingo Chuckwagon – 1015 Kapi‘olani Blvd. – Steven Nagamine
Flamingo Kapiolani – 871 Kapi‘olani Blvd. – Steven Nagamine
Flamingo Pearl City – 803 Kamehameha Hwy. – Steven Nagamine
Flamingo Royal Lanai – 2254 Kalakaua Ave. – Steven Nagamine
Flamingo Windward – 45-480 Kane‘ohe – Dr. Steven Nagamine
Garden Island Grill – A. Sadoyama
Green Garden Restaurant – Hanapepe, Kaua‘i – Gwen Hamabata
Gushi’s Lunch Wagon – 1604 Democrat St. – Yasuo Gushi
Hale Nanea Café – Old Wai‘alae Rd. & Kapi‘olani? – J. Terukina
Izakaya Hatsune (formerly Restaurant Kariyushi) – Young St. – Steve Yamada
Hide-Chan – 2471 S. King St. – Chizuko Tamayose
Highway Inn (A) – 94-364 Depot Road, Waipahu – Seiichi Toguchi
Highway Inn (B) – 94-226 Leoku St. – Bobby K. Toguchi
Honolulu Café – Beretania @ Fort Sts., makai-ewa corner – George Higa
Islander Coffee House – 247 Lewers St./Reef Towers Hotel – Kenny Kaneshiro
Jack’s Burger – Seiko Miyasato
Jane’s Fountain (A) – 1719 Liliha St. – Jane Maturo/Tsuruko Nakasone
Jane’s Fountain (B) – 1719 Liliha St. – James Nakasone
K C Drive Inn (A) – Kalakaua @ Ala Wai Blvd. – Jiro & Agnes Asato
K C Drive Inn (B) – 1029 Kapahulu Ave. – Jiro & Agnes Asato
Kamehameha Grill – 1028 Kekaulike St. – Ted G. Tamashiro & Yoshikiyo Sadoyama
Kapiolani Coffee Shop – 1520 N. School St./Kam Bowl – Gary Mijo
Kapiolani Coffee Shop – Waimalu Shopping Center – Gary Mijo
Kapiolani Grill – Kapi‘olani Blvd.
KC Coffee Shop – 2734 So. King St., Mo‘ili‘ili – Agnes Asato/Family
KC Manoa Family Restaurant – Manoa Marketplace
KC Snack Shop – Honolulu Holiday Mart
Kenny’s – Lihu‘e, Kaua‘i – Kenneth Arashiro
Kenny’s Concesssion – Wailua Golf Course Wailua, Kaua‘i – Kenneth Arashiro
Kewalo Inn – Ward Ave. & Ala Moana Blvd. – Harry Seigi Uehara
King’s Bakery & Coffee Shop – 1936 S. King St. – Robert Taira
Kuhio Café – R. Matsumura
Kuhio Grill – 2646 S. King St. – Miyashiro
Larry’s Restaurant – Pa‘ia, Maui – Myrna Chiyoko Miyahira
Liberty Café – N. Yasutomi
Like Like Drive Inn Restaurant – 735 Ke‘eaumoku St. – Alice  Nako
Liliha Café – Marian Arakaki’s dad
Liliha Café – Mrs. N. Shimabuku
Lilly Café – T. Yafuso
Makaha Drive Inn – Stanley Oshiro
Makalena Golf Course – Waipio – Kenny Kaneshiro
Manoa Grill – 2851 East Manoa Rd. – Dora Mitsue & Takeo Tengan
Masa’s Cafeteria – 910 Mapunapuna St. – Masa Uejo
Miller Lunch Room – Z. Miyashiro
Mollie’s Café (A) – 119 N. King St. – Shinei & Tsuruko Shimabukuro
Mollie’s Café (B) – 119 N. King St. – Ted G. Tamashiro & Yoshikiyo Sadoyama
Myogaya (A) – 1237-39 Nu‘uanu Ave. – Yonega Arashiro
Myogaya (B) – Kalakaua Ave. – Yonega Arashiro
Naomi’s – Kilauea Ave. – Charles F. Higa
New Eagle Café – 1130 N. Nimitz Hwy. – John Teruya
New Emma Café – James Nako/Seian Hokama
New Uptown Fountain – 523 N. School St. – Higa
Olympia Café – Kapa‘a, Kaua‘i
Palace Inn – Masaichi Tamashiro
Palama Saimin
Pawaa Grill – 1512 S. King St. – Teiko China
People’s Café – Pali Hwy., next to Long’s drwy. – Nakasone
Rainbow Drive-In – 3308 Kana‘ina Ave.  – Gusukuma?
Rainbow Fountain – A‘ala/King St. – Yoshuitsu Shimabukuro
Restaurant Kuni – Waipahu – Kuniomi Uehara
River Side Café – K. Shikiya
Saint Louis Drive Inn – 3145 Wai‘alae Ave. – Yutaka Nakada
Sei’s Restaurant – 2734 S. King St., Mo‘ili‘ili – Seiichi & Norma Tamashiro
Service Café – T. Matusmura
Skippy’s Inn – Kikue Kaneshiro & Tokusei Kaneshiro
Star Chop Sui – S Kishaba
Sue’s Place – Masaichi Tamashiro
Sun Rise Café – K. Ikehara
Sunrise Restaurant – 525 Kapahulu Ave. – Katsu Tamayose
Sweet Café
The Buccaneer Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge – 2164 Kalia Rd. – Kenny Kaneshiro
The Jolly Roger – 2224 Kalakaua Ave. – Kenny Kaneshiro
The Jolly Roger Drive-Inn #1 – 1555 Dillingham Blvd. – Kenny Kaneshiro
The Jolly Roger Drive-Inn #2 – 4134 Wai‘alae Ave. – Kenny Kaneshiro
The Rigger – 2335 Kalakaua Ave. – Kenny Kaneshiro
Times Grill – B. Higa
Tokiwa – 1339 Nu‘uanu Ave. – Haruko Higa
Tom’s Grill – K. Miyashiro
Union Café – Z. Miyashiro
Uptown Café – Beretania & Bethel – Zentaro Miyashiro
Uptown Café & Fountain – 522 N. School St. – Zenan Miyashiro
Victoria Inn – 1120 12th Ave. – Ted G. Tamashiro & Yoshikiyo Sadoyama
Victory Grill – N. Oshiro
Violet’s Grill – 1210 Dillingham Blvd., Kapalama Shop. Ctr. – Y. Sadoyama/G. Tamashiro/T Tengan
Waikiki Diner
Wailua Marina Restaurant (concession) – Wailua, Kaua‘i – Yonezo Arashiro
Wikiwiki Coffee House – Ala Moana Shopping Center – Kay Hokama
Wisteria – 1206 S. King St. – Jiro & Agnes Asato
Wisteria II – Windward Shopping Center, Kane‘ohe – Agnes Asato/Family
Zippy’s (Multi-branch) – Charlie & Francis Higa


That’s quite a list, eh?  Which of these Okinawan owned restaurants have you been to?  I’ll admit that I don’t recognize almost half of them – but I’m sure my father-in-law will remember.  Try running this list by the nisei folks.  It should bring back memories…




Next big event coming up on Black Friday – Magic Mushroom Reunion III


20131129 Magic Mushroom III


66 Responses to “Okinawan Owned Restaurants”

  1. Rodney says:

    @doogdoog – Welcome to the MLC blog! Denver Grill – I’ll have to ask my father-in-law about that one (before my time). Probably the same with Tasty Broiler.

  2. doogdoog says:

    What about Denver Grill, Tasty Broiler?

  3. Hawaiian by heart says:


    I remember King’s bakery. My mother would get pies there to bring home for us.

    K C Drive Inn (A) – Kalakaua @ Ala Wai Blvd. Wow when my ohana moved to Ali Wai area. They would send me down to K Cs for waffle dogs.

    Im sad to hear almost every small kid memory place is gone.

  4. Jorge says:

    Of all things to forget!! My mom started from the early 60’s working as a waitress for lots of the big Okinawan-owned restaurants from Flamingo’s, Columbia Inn, Like Like, Wisteria. Her last place was the one downstairs from Timmy’s Gym on Fort Street Mall.

  5. Jorge says:

    Violet’s banana cream pie was supplied by the sibling of my friend’s parents, who had a farm up in the Windward side. My connection to the Sadoyama’s is same kenjinkai.
    Thanks for showing the Smile Cafe..As Sam’s grand kids tell me, if their grandpa didn’t go blind, who knows how long that place may have continued to operate. As the story goes, typical Okinawan-style of family operations.
    Lastly, I’d like to add to a youtube video in the food section on the mochi pounding. I’m also a friend to one of the Yamaki brothers in Wahiawa.. Mahalo for sharing all dis good stuff!!

  6. Rodney says:

    @jorge – Welcome and thank you for sharing with us. I just did a quick google inquire on Smiles cafe and came up with this nisei who worked as a dishwasher there:

  7. jorge says:

    My friends Grandpa had a Sports bar in town back in the 40’s called Smile’s Cafe, run by Sam Uyehara. Also is friends with the son of the Sadoyama family that ran Violet’s Grill.

  8. 4G says:

    @khs68, wow – that’s some kind of memory you have! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  9. JonTMediaHawaii says:

    Great post about restaurants!

  10. khs68 says:

    Hi Masako. Hale Nanea was a favorite of my parents — my mom hated cooking so we’d go out at least twice a week to restaurants and to the grandparents on the weekends.

    This was in the mid-late ’50s so my memory of Hale Nanea is limited to what a small kid can recall. The first thing that comes to mind is the big refrigerator case with the glass window so I could see the pudding, jello, fruit cocktail and my favorite mint jelly in shiny aluminum cups.

    Hale Nanea was our Friday dinner spot. I always looked forward to going out to eat. Baban would make me bocha early and get dressed. Then mom and dad would come pick me up and off we’d go to Hale Nanea.

    Dad would always ask for a booth in the back along the window facing Kapiolani/King Street. This was the time King Street was two ways up to Waialae Avenue. We had the same waitress all the time (Japanese lady forget her name) so I think now that it was because of this waitress that Dad wanted to sit in that booth. What I remember is that she’d always bring extra rolls, crackers and fruit cocktail for me.

    On Saturday nights we’d go over to a friend’s house in Palolo and the parents used to play poker until early morning. Then all the adults and kids would pile into the cars and go to Hale Nanea for breakfast. I remember the pancakes and hot chocolate in the thick mugs.

    I can’t remember exactly what I had when we’d go there for dinner — I guess something my mom ordered and shared. But I do remember Dad always ordering the grilled lamb chops. To this day, whenever I have lamb, I think of Hale Nanea since it’s there I had lamb for the first time.

    Not sure if this was at Hale Nanea since it’s been 60 years ago, but I remember the man who took us to the table wearing a short sleeve white shirt, black bow tie and black pants. He also ran the cash register and would give me gum when we dad paid the bill.

    I think I was around 8 so when Hale Nanea closed so they could build the H1 through Kaimuki.

    Thanks to your hard-working family, I have great small kid memories of Hale Nanea.

    • Francis Apoliona says:

      Our family would eat at Hale Nanea every Sunday after church at St. Patrick’s. I remember drinking hot chocalate in those thick mugs. We also would come for dinner and lunch. Fond memories indeed. I wish there were some pictures of this place.

  11. Masako says:

    Good morning! Busy week, I finally had a chance to check the blog.
    @khs68 – Can you tell me more about your memories of Hale Nanea? I would love to hear more about that restaurant that my grandpa and great uncle ran.

  12. yoshi says:

    Kapiolani Coffee Shop – Wataru and Bessie Teruya original owners and makers of the famous oxtail soup !!! I worked at Aloha Motors back in the 70’s and had the opportunity to meet these super nice couple. The typical mom and pop establishment. I hope to see them in heaven.

  13. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!
    Happy hump day!

  14. khs68 says:

    Golden Duck was really dark inside — save money on the lights. So hard to see the food, according to Baban. But, McCully Chop Suey was well lit and you could see if there were any floating kakaroach legs in the gau gee mein. 😀

  15. Rodney says:

    @sally – bumbye you tell me, k?

  16. Rodney says:

    Golden Duck was the “take out” place, but McCully Chop Sui was the “out to eat” place.

  17. khs68 says:

    Yep, Golden Duck was right across the street from McCully Chop Suey. For big family dinners, the aunties would order from Golden Duck. I suspect it’s because the cousins didn’t have to cross the street to pickup the food — baban lived two blocks away. But, if we ate-out, we’d go McCully Chop Suey. Don’t ask me why, my family from McCully and we’re weird.

  18. sally says:

    Yes, Rod, Bert’s Cafe bldg is gone and there’s something new coming up behind a construction wall now. Sadly, there was family disagreement (putting it very kindly) about the property. Don’t know what’s going to be there now.

  19. khs68 says:

    McCully Superette was owned by Dorothy Teruya. Not sure if she was related by marriage to the Times Supermarket Teruya Brothers. But for sure, they were her competition.

    My aunty and baban used to go to McCully Superette instead of Times. I asked them one time, “Why go that small, crowded place?” Of course their answer was, “Because we always go there, we know where everything is, and we know the people”. Okay end of the story.

  20. Rodney says:

    Golden Duck used to be across there too, no?

  21. Rodney says:

    Paula said that not only did Burt’s close down, they knocked the building down. I’m glad I got to eat there at least once. It was quite memorable. When we were there, we talked to the owner lady and she said that as long as her husband can cook, they will stay open. Had so much memorabilia in there. I know I have pictures someplace.

  22. khs68 says:

    I remember only looking into Bert’s when we wandered into Pollo’s Market small keed time. We’d cross McCully Street at Algaroba, go into Pollo’s to buy candy then go to the pharmacy that was next to McCully Chop Suey. The pharmacy had all kind stuff, sorta like a pre-Longs Drugs in the olden days.

  23. khs68 says:

    Yep, Bert’s is closed now. I think it closed earlier this year.

  24. Rodney says:

    @khs68 – Did Bert’s recently close up?

  25. khs68 says:

    More places I didn’t know were owned/started by Uchinanchu entrepreneurs.

    College Inn (Dole & Univesity) owned by the Columbia Inn Kaneshiro’s. Another place mom & dad used to take me after the movies at Varsity theater.

    Ilima Drive-In (S. King St.) Masaji Uyehara

    Bert’s Cafe at Pollo Market (McCully) K & U Uehara. My FIL’s hangout.

    Capitol Drive-In (6th & Waialae) H. & M Uyehara. We used to go there all time.

    The Old Saimin House (N. King St) Ikei’s

  26. khs68 says:

    Just found out Kaimuki Inn was owned by the Takara’s, relatives of the George’s Inn Takara’s.

  27. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!

  28. DIO says:

    By the way, since you brought this topic up, were Okinawans also heavily involved in grocery stores as well? I know Times Supermarkets were started by Teruya family. Were any of the smaller mom-and-pop stores primarily owned by Okinawans or not?

  29. DIO says:

    Hah? Highway Inn in town? You mean no need to take trips out to Waipahu anymore? Right on!!

  30. khs68 says:

    The Takara’s owned George’s Inn – mauka/ewa corner S. King & Koreamoku.

  31. Rodney says:

    Eh, you know what’s missing from this list? Tsukenjo’s!

  32. Rodney says:

    btw, a downtown location of Highway Inn just opened this weekend – across of the Gold Bond building.

  33. Rodney says:

    Utage – Before Utage, I had to wait until the Okinawan Festival to get Okinawan Soba. But now I can get it at Utage. Kinda expensive for noodles – but when you’re craving – you don’t care.

  34. Rodney says:

    Thanks for the link DIO (I going cockaroach the photo). My FIL always mentions Donald Duck drive in when we’re in the area. I recall reading somewhere that they had to change the name because Donald Duck was, well – you know… Donald Duck.

  35. khs68 says:

    This is my favorite Okinawan song. My ex-Jiji used to play this on his samisen at every New Year’s day family get together. Good memories…

  36. khs68 says:

    Hubby remembers Family Grill on Kapahulu Ave owned by the Miyashiro’s.

  37. DIO says:

    volleymom2: check this article on Bea’s and Donald Duck, plus a recipe for Bea’s Drive In Turkey Stuffing

  38. volleymom2 says:

    I have been to about 25 of those restaurants, but heard of 34 of them. Donald Duck drive in?? Since when and still around??

  39. Mark'75 says:

    Wow, Kuhio Grill…great place for HEAVY pupus and beer! KG’s is another place I miss.

  40. Mark'75 says:

    One great commercial…miss all that food!

  41. 4G says:

    I miss King’s Bakery, too. 🙁

  42. 4G says:

    @khs68 – thanks for Utage! 🙂

  43. khs68 says:

    @Dio – Horitsugi’s! Yeah, steamed mullet das right. Hmm… what the heck did we eat at Teruya’s? Gotta tink about that.

    @4G – Utage is in that shopping area where the DMV is on Dillingham (old Gem’s). It’s on the same side as Sugoi & Young’s hawaiian food.

  44. 4G says:

    Where is/was Utage’s?

  45. 4G says:

    Southern Comfort – yuck! LOL.

    Wow – quite a list, @Rod! I don’t think that I have been to even half of them. I certainly miss Wisteria and can vouch for Violet’s Grill (circa 1974) – was good for a late night snack – Beef Cutlet, gravy all over! LOL.

    I miss KC and Jolly Roger, too. 🙁 I have not been to Flamingo’s in ages . . . .

  46. 4G says:

    I don’t believe that I used to actually drink Southern Comfort back in those days …. LOL.

  47. 4G says:

    If memory serves, I believe Teruya’s was on River, close to Hotel. We didn’t go there to eat, though. 😉

  48. DIO says:

    khs68: Teruya’s? Where was that? The only place I can think of that had steamed Mullet, in that area, was a place that was over on College Walk, mauka of `A`ala Park. That place was called Horitsuji’s.

  49. khs68 says:

    @Lowtone123 – Sunrise restaurant in Kapahulu makes good comfort food, too. Pig’s feet soup like my ex-MIL used to make. Feels like you eating at somebody’s house.

  50. Lowtone123 says:

    khs 68…Ooh, love Utage’s. I call it Okinawan comfort food like mom makes.

  51. khs68 says:

    We get take out from Hide-Chan at least twice a month. Hubby likes the grilled akule and salmon, which I refuse to cook at home (too stink). 😀

  52. khs68 says:

    I remember going to Teruya’s on River Street in the early 80’s. Wasn’t the signature dish the steamed mullet?

  53. Kage says:

    Good Morning.
    I recognize a few, very few on the list.

  54. khs68 says:

    Hale Nanea – My parents used to go there all the time when I was a small kid. Dad loved the grilled lamb chops, which my mother refused to cook at home (too stink). Me? I loved the mint jelly.

  55. LINDA KATO says:

    Good morning, MLC’ers ❗ Happy Monday ❗ 😀

    Have a great day ❗ 😀 😀

    I remember Aiea Grill and Flamingo Restaurants ❗ 😀

  56. M says:

    I been to at least 22 restaurants on your list.

  57. khs68 says:

    Add Utage to the list – it’s owned by Jocelyn Naoko Kishimoto. I think she’s a relative of Violet’s Grill.

  58. Lowtone123 says:

    Wow such an impressive list RL! As a quarter Uchinanchu, I learned my cooking skills from my mom. Just watching her cook I picked up a lot of cooking skills and techniques to flavor dishes. The use of miso and shoyu/sugar are quite popular in Okinawan dishes. Get Bob Sigall involved he probably has more info on a lot those old time establishments.

  59. eddyo says:

    Good Morning,

    How about Teruya’s & Columbia Inn? The former is Duh!, but the latter–wasn’t it Kaneshiro? The rest was very familiar, since Dad was han-bun Oki, we went to several of these places over & over–not bad at all! I always thought that restaurants were the next in the progression of occupations, since many Oki’s including my Grandpa were farmers or owned a piggery. This side of the family appreciated stronger tastes than Naichi, which meant more compatible with Hawaii palates. Just a hypothesis…

  60. M says:

    Guud morning MLCers!

    Hale Nanea Café – Old Wai‘alae Rd. & Kapi‘olani? – J. Terukina, Masako’s family, also owned Chunky’s Drive in.

  61. DIO says:

    Let me be the FIRST to say, you’re making me hungry! 😆

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