Hawai‘i is fortunate to have a tradition of hard working and determined immigrants who came to the islands to create better lives for their families, communities, and future generations. The State Senate today recognized the accomplishments of one such group of immigrants: the Okinawan community in Hawai‘i.
There are over 325 restaurants that are owned and operated statewide by the Uchinanchu descendants, those that emigrated from Oroku, Okinawa. Ushi Takara started America Café in 1923 and mentored dozens of Uchinanchu to open their own restaurants, with over 75 individuals coming from Oroku. Almost a century later, the honorees have been bringing Hawai‘i’s people together around food, and they run and operate the go-to places for Hawai‘i’s families.
Recognized on the floor today were Sidney Takara, Howard Takara, Gene Kaneshiro, Ethel Teruya, Beverly Taira, and Shari Tamashiro.
Sidney Takara is the grandson of Ushi Takara, the “Father of Oroku Restaurants” and founder of American Café.
Howard Takara is the son of Yuri Takara, owners of Harriet’s Saimin and Yuki’s Café. Howard worked at his father’s restaurant for 10 years and also serves as a Board member of the Oroku Azajin Club.
Gene Kaneshiro is the son of Fred Kaneshiro and nephew of Gentaro Kaneshiro, owners of Columbia Inn. Gene ran Columbia Inn for many years.
Ethel Teruya is the wife of Wallace Teruya and sister-in-law of Albert Teruya, owners of T & W Coffee Shop, Times Grill and later Times Super Markets.
Beverly Taira is President of the Oroku Azajin Club. Beverly has served many years as a board member, and she helped in the documentation of the 75 Oroku Azajin restaurants
Shari Tamashiro was instrumental in documenting the history of the family restaurants. She guided Howard Takara, Holly Takara and Gene Kaneshiro in recording the oral histories of 12 restauranteurs and the creation of the Okinawan Restaurant Exhibit at Honolulu Hale.
Senate honors also went to Galen Teruya is the grandson of Albert Teruya. Galen served as President of the Oroku Azajin Club in 2014-2015, and Judy Uyehara Morita, daughter of Masaji Uyehara, owner of Aiea Drive Inn, Ilima Drive Inn, Keone’s Lounge and Smile Café.
Also recognized by the Senate were the family members and community members of several other iconic Hawai‘i restaurants who were in the Senate gallery:
Karen Teruya Nakamura is the daughter of Robert and Nancy Teruya, owners of Aloha Grill. This restaurant also once had a bowling alley.
Ruby Teruya Uehara is the daughter of Kana Teruya, owner of Lucky Grill, U.S. Café, Choice Inn and Kaimuki Inn.
John Takara is the nephew of Keikyu Takara, who owned Bluebird Café and McCully Fountain.
Muriel (Teruya) Arakaki and brother William Teruya are the daughter and son of Harry Teruya, who owned Chef’s Café and Sierra Cafe.
Lorraine (Takara) Egusa and Russell Takara are the daughter and son of Taru and Chiyoko Takara, who owned Kaimuki Inn and George’s Inn.
James and Jane Uyehara are the son and daughter-in-law of Jenichi Uyehara, who owned Metropolitan Grill.
Gary Kobashigawa is the son of Roy Kobashigawa, who with his two brothers, Mike and Larry, owned Sheridan Grill.
Margaret Takara is the daughter-in-law of Kojiro Takara, who owned Star Grill.
Mary-Ann Uehara is the grand-daughter of Kana and Uto Uehara, who owned Bert’s Café.
Helen Uyehara is the daughter-in-law of Ichiro and Kameko Uyehara, who owned Happy Café and Kakaako Inn.
Liz Teruya is the grand-daughter of Saburo Teruya, who owned Kapiolani Grill.
Barbara Teruya is the daughter of Robert Uehara, who owned Chidori Restaurant and Ellen’s Bar & Grill.
Jason Takara is the son of Edward and Roberta Takara, who owned E & R Koffee Kup and Jane’s Coffee Shop.
Violet Irinaka is the daughter of Kame Uyehara, who owned Denver Grill.
George Kamimura is the Grandson of Kame Taira, who owned Pacific Bakery & Coffee Shop and Palama Hotdog Shop.
Francis Takara and Mae Katahara are the son and daughter of Charles Takara, who owned New Aala Café and Nancy’s Grill.
Gary and Neal Uehara are the sons of Harold Uehara, who owned LaSalle Grill.
Herbert Uehara is the nephew of Tsuneko Uehara, who owned Clover Inn and U.S. Cafe.
Frederick Takara is the son of Saburo Takara, who owned Café Paris and Ramona CAFE.
Karen (Teruya) Nakamura is the daughter of Robert and Nancy Teruya, owners of Aloha Grill. This restaurant was located in the heart of Honolulu on Bethel Street. It not only provided service to families and banquets, but also had a bowling alley. Karen has also supported and helped document the majority of Oroku Azajin restaurants.
Ruby (Teruya) Uehara is the daughter of Kana Teruya, who owned Lucky Grill, where Ruby and her siblings worked while going to school. Kana also owned U.S. Café, Choice Inn and Kaimuki Inn.
Alice Masutani and Lorraine Kajikawa are the daughters and Dustin Ebesu is the grandson of Kamado and Yoshiko Uyehra, who owned Café Seven Seas.
Karen (Uyehara) Kanemasu and her husband, Wayne are the daughter and son-in-law of Herbert and Margaret Uyehara, who owned Capital Drive Inn and New Capital Cafe.
Sandra (Uyehara) Ikehara is the daughter of Masao Uyehara, who owned Lindy’s Café and Silver Surf Fountain.
Jane (Uyehara) Suwa is the daughter of Paul Uyehara, who owned Paul’s Coffee Shop.
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