This week, we’re celebrating Hawaii Island, the biggest of the island chain. Today we’re at Cafe 100, a longtime family business in Hilo that’s survived two tsunamis.
“We’re here at Cafe 100, home of the loco moco, where they sell about 10,000 loco mocos a month. We’re joined by Gloria Kobayashi, whose family started Cafe 100, thanks for joining us today,” Kristine Uyeno said.
“Thank you, it’s a privilege,” Kobayashi said.
“No, it’s a privilege for us, to have you here. More than 30 varieties here, you have brought a few. Tell us what we’re looking at?” Uyeno asked.
“Mainstay is regular loco with a quarter pound of hamburger steak on brown gravy and rice, this is the bacon loco, Portuguese sausage one, then we end with the two big ones, notice they both have potato salad, macaroni salad, this is a super loco with spam, two Portuguese sausage, two eggs and the Kilauea, invented to memorialize our volcano, because underneath is chili falling down the mountain, and smokey sausages and spam,” Kobayashi said.
“You have over 30 varieties, what is the secret to a good loco moco?” Uyeno asked.
“Well I think it’s the gravy. We make our gravy from scratch and people tell us we have very good brown gravy. Another favorite is beef stew. Remember I told you that Sen. Inouye used to come to Cafe 100 to eat beef stew whenever he was in Hilo,” she said. “My father started Cafe 100 after he returned from WWII, he was with the 100th battalion, which is how we got the name. My father was Richard Miyashiro and my mom was Evelyn Miyashiro and the joke was that he learned to cook in the trenches in Italy. He opened the first Cafe 100 in Waiakea town in 1946 in January, but in April, tsunami came, caused damage. Sixteen years later, my father built a brand new Cafe 100 across from the Wailua boat ramp, that was May 2, 1960, a big tsunami came, May 21, 1960, cafe was three weeks old.”
“You’ve survived mother nature, you’ve survived 70 years, what do you think is the secret to Cafe 100’s success?” Uyeno asked.
“My father always said full stomach. Give the customer the best food you can. Make the prices reasonable, and I think he succeeded. We managed to continue the story, the success of the business,” she said.
“Even though you have more than 30 varieties of loco moco, you’re always open to suggestions?” Uyeno asked.
“Yes if anyone wants to suggest a loco, we can certainly have more varieties. We like to satisfy our customers,” Kobayashi said.
“You like to satisfy your customers and I guess there’s never enough loco moco variety to go around,” Uyeno said.
“Yes!” she said.