Okinawans play historic role in Hawaii’s restaurant scene

Living808

Okinawa week wrapped up on a Living808 with interesting insight about the history of Okinawa restaurants in Hawaii.

The Hawaii Okinawa Restaurant Project is documenting and sharing the story of the 350+ Okinawan owned restaurants in Hawaii.

It all started with one man,
Ushi Takara.

He worked on plantations on island of Hawaii, came over to Honolulu and worked at a number of restaurants, learning all aspects of the business.

In 1923, Ushi opened American Cafe in downtown Honolulu and over the years, he took dozens of young Okinawans under his wing, taught them the trade from the ground up and helped them open restaurants of their own.

There are 75 restaurants owned by Okinawans from Oroku Clan, including Columbia Inn, Times Grill (became Times Supermarket), Smile Café and many more, a total of over 350 Okinawan owned restaurants across the islands.
 
There are three pillars of Okinawan restaurants today: Hide-Chan, Utage and Sunrise. All family owned and run, specializing in home cooking.
 
The project is looking for Okinawan owned restaurants that are not on their list.

The full list will be on display at the upcoming Okinawan Festival on Labor Day weekend so people can check it out. 

They are also searching for copies of old menus, so they can be digitized and put in an archive.
 
The project recently found out that WM Burger and Gochi Grill are Okinawan owned!
 
Contact ‪pigsfromthesea@gmail.com ‬ or call ‪734.9562‬ with any information about Okinawan owned restaurants.
 

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