Mahalo for visiting the website for Windward Poi Bowl, a Hawaiian food restaurant in Kane`ohe, Hawaii. My uncle and aunty Brian & Lori Hayasaka own the Windward Poi Bowl. Some patrons of Windward Poi Bowl inquired as to how a Japanese-American family came to run a Hawaiian food restaurant. What follows is the short story from the elders explaining how the knowledge came to our family.
My Grandma Bea’s father-in-law, O-ji-chan owned a restaurant in the mid-1900′s. O-Ji-chan had immigrated from Japan, along with thousands of other Japanese. As many immigrants are prone to do, after saving up some hard-earned dollars, O-ji-chan went into business. He had learned how to cook American food in Pepeekeo, Hawaii, so his own restaurant cooked and served American food. O-ji-chan also baked a tasty banana pie.
There were Hawaiian students who lived across the street from O-ji-chan’s restaurant and they were regulars. They asked why O-ji-chan didn’t serve any Hawaiian food, to which he replied that he didn’t know how to cook any of it. The Hawaiian students taught O-ji-chan how to make lau lau and squid luau and pipikaula, among other traditional Hawaiian fare. Over time, O-ji-chan enjoyed the success of a busy Hawaiian food restaurant, People’s Cafe.
Grandma Beatrice and her sister Jane (my great aunty, may she rest-in-peace) grew up working in the People’s Cafe. Aunty Jane waited on guests in the front and Grandma Bea learned how to cook from O-ji-chan. After some time and many years in business, People’s Cafe was sold to another family, and is still open to this day, right by Pali Long’s.
Years later, in 1993, Grandma Bea came out of retirement to help my Uncle Brian open up Windward Poi Bowl in Kane`ohe, Hawaii. Grandma Bea passed the knowledge on to Uncle Brian, and helped teach him how to prepare the food, including squid luau, tripe stew, lau lau, and lomi salmon. In the year 2000, satisfied with her son Brian’s level of skill in preparing Hawaiian food, Grandma Bea retired again. Now 93 years old, Grandma Bea still remembers the old days of People’s Cafe and her time at Windward Poi Bowl fondly.