HALEIWA, Hawaii (KHON2) — A Haleiwa landmark celebrated 70 years in business on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. Mamoru and Helen Matsumoto opened Matsumoto’s grocery store on Feb. 13, 1951, and quickly developed a large following of regulars who came for their shave ice.

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“I was surprised it would last this long, I didn’t expect it to last this long,” said Stanley Matsumoto, son of Mamoru and Helen.

Stanley took over the business when his parents passed away and he continues to make up to 1,000 shave ice on a busy day.

“The store was my dad’s pride and joy, it was his number one child,” Stanley said.

The family had no idea their smooth-packed shave ice made with homemade syrups would become a global name.

“We try not to be too touristy, but we cannot help it because of the name has gotten a lot better now,” explained Stanley Matsumoto. “We try to cater to the locals and I always tell local people it’s the local people that made Matsumoto what it is.”

North Shore locals said, they continue going to Matsumoto’s for the shave ice and to see the family.

“Stan comes out and greets every customer, and Remy [the daughter] is out there greeting people, and Remy’s mom is there, so it’s a family-run business and I love it because when I come back, I feel welcome,” said Waialua native and family friend Lori McKeown.

Business was booming until the pandemic hit in March and Haleiwa turned into a ghost town.

“It was a ghost town no one was here, it was pretty sad,” explained McKeown.

Businesses in Haleiwa closed their doors and waited to see what would happen.

Stanley said, he was surprised to hear Like Like Drive Inn shut its doors for good in April, 2020, due to the pandemic. Like Like had been open for 70 years, just like Matsumoto.

“It was really hard on the old-time businesses that shut down completely, I feel really sad about it,” Stanley said.

“When I saw Like Like Drive Inn lose their business I really thought about the Matsumoto’s and how they have plugged away all these years,” McKeown said. “And I think it’s because they establish relationships with people, and they’re a household name, and known worldwide, they can continue their business because I come here for shave ice, but I also come to talk story with the people and look around and remember what Haleiwa is all about.”

Matsumoto’s was closed for two months before re-opening on May 16, 2020. Matsumoto said, he did not know what to expect.

“It was so hard because business was getting better, it was going up each year, for it to go down like 50 to 60% drop it was kind of like a shock for me,” he said.

The long lines came back, however, and it was not just because of social distancing.

“It was because of the local people that made us survive through this pandemic,” Matsumoto said.

“They’re the ones that came to the store because they were happy with no tourists and they didn’t have to wait in line,” he laughed.

Matsumoto’s helped keep other businesses at Haleiwa Store Lots open too.

“Matsumoto’s store is actually the heart of Haleiwa and I can’t imagine Haleiwa without it,” McKeown said.

Stanley said, he hopes one of his three kids can keep Matsumoto’s in the family and open for many more decades.

The 70th anniversary celebration included gift card giveaways and $1 shave ice. All clothing at Matsumoto’s will be 20% off (excluding sale items) throughout the month of February, 2020.