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First Bite: Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Waipahu

Diner A and his ohana made a first-time visit to the newly-opened Shakey’s Pizza Parlor in Waipahu Town Center this past Sunday evening, and left fairly satisfied by their first impression.

Being a new and exciting restaurant — add to that the nostalgia factor (which will be explained in a bit) —  it’s no surprise Shakey’s was PACKED, even on a Sunday night. Luckily they were able to get a booth without a problem.

Wait, booth you say? One of the most memorable things I remember about the “old school” Shakey’s were their communal style wooden bench tables and seating. LONG tables and benches.

How do I remember that? Well, Shakey’s was once a very popular Pizza chain on Oahu back in the 60’s up until somewhere around 1980 when they finally pulled out. Back then, Shakey’s had locations in Waimalu, Waipahu, Honolulu (where Sorabol now is) and, yes, in my hometown of Kaneohe.

Another key feature I remember about the old Shakey’s was the window in front where you could watch the Pizza chef prepare and spin the dough, tossing and spinning it in the air. Which as you may imagine for very young keiki like me and pals at the time, was absolutely CAPTIVATING. Add to that, back then when we didn’t have the likes of Pizza Huts, Domino’s or Papa John’s, and Shakey’s was really the only game in town at the time. So pizza was a novelty for just about everyone.

Do I remember how good (or bad?) Shakey’s Pizza tasted back then? Heck no. You could probably give a 5 year old ketchup on toast with a little cheese melted on it and tell them that’s pizza and they’d run off with it as a happy camper. lol

What other things about the “old school” Shakey’s in Kaneohe do I remember? Not much, as I was way too young. Just the small arcade room in the back, which being during the “pre video game era”, most of the games there were electronically-scored mechanical Pinball Machines and I think one Skee-ball game. Some folks mentioned they had a live Banjo Player, which I think I VAGUELY can remember the Kaneohe location did indeed have one.

Location-wise, Shakey’s Kaneohe was formerly on the lot on the makai side corner of Kamehameha Hwy. and Lilipuna Rd., across the street from American Savings Bank (corner of Kamehemeha Hwy. and Kahuhipa St.), which back in the day was HonFed. Remember that bank? Talk about OLD SCHOOL!

Fast-forward to Shakey’s 2010, they’re back with a fresh and modern look…

Decor-wise, the only thing  I also VAGUELY remember is that the Kaneohe location had high ceilings (perhaps with ceiling fans) and was very “rustic”. Perhaps a brick house tavern or pub look, but I can’t specifically recall. Gosh, I wish I had photos!

I’m just VERY DISAPPOINTED this new Shakey’s doesn’t feature the “window” in front showcasing Pizza cooks/chefs spinning fresh dough. Us kids REALLY loved watching them do that.  According to Diner E, the only window is a “view” of the kitchen in back, which is about chest-high from an adult’s vantage point, and that’s about it.  Boo!

While not available for dinner, Shakey’s offers an all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet for $12.99. This includes Pizza, Pasta and a Salad Bar, which are presented on this (at the time vacant during dinner) buffet station…

The dining room is surrounded by booth seating…

While in the center are open tables that can be arranged into one or however many connected tables your party requires. This is where the nostalgia comes into play, as that I suppose is their 2010 “modular” answer to the circa 1965 communal-length wooden bench tables and chairs.

There’s also a number of big screen TVs throughout the place broadcasting live sports, so once beer and wine service kick, this place can act as part sports bar as well; except sans the bar, as there is none.

Just like the old school setup, the new school Shakey’s continues the tradition of keeping the keiki (and keiki at heart) entertained with an arcade room in back…

Don’t mind the “smiley” faces on those folks. They aren’t “Pizza Parlor robbers” or anything like that. That’s  just Diner A’s wife and son (anonymously) enjoying some of the game room action. They sure LOOK happy! lol Oh, the games are $1 each via tokens.

This is the arcade room’s prize redemption counter…

Man, I wish I could rewind the clock and be 5 years old again. That would be SO AWESOME. Damned it. lol

Moving on to the GRINDZ.

The way the system works here is that there’s a menu board that greets you just as you enter. But don’t dwell there yet. Diner A recommends before deciding what you want to order to first go hunt for an open table, have someone in your party sit there and reserve your table, while you go back to the menu board in front and decide what to get.

After that, you go to the front service counter and place your order and pay, to which they’ll give you an electronic tracker “key” with a number on it. Then you go back to your table and stick this electronic tracker key (lucky #13)  in a puka (hole) on the top of this contraption (where it says “3 easy steps”). This in turn tells the food runner which table you’re sitting at so he/she knows where to bring your order when it’s ready. This electronic key tracking “contraption” looks like this…

Pretty cool. Perhaps they’ll one day introduce an iPhone App’ for Shakey’s Pizza Parlor customers, so they won’t need to use this, but will be able to have their order delivered wherever they or their iPhone are located. Shoots, I bet that already exists!

There’s no host/hostess or wait service here, but strictly self-serve, along with a manager on duty to make sure you know what’s going on.  The only personalized service you’ll receive are food runners who bring you your order.

Need another drink? All self-serve. Need more food? Go back to the order counter, place your order, get another tracker tag, and return to your table and the food runners will bring it to you when it’s ready.

Speaking of drinks, while not yet available, draft beer and wine service will be coming soon.

With that, Diner A’s gang decided to try ‘Shakey’s Special’ Pizza…

Shakey’s Special™ – Salami, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, Seasoned Ground Beef, Mushrooms and Black Olives. $22 large size ($14.99 medium; $7.99 small)

Diner A noted that he wanted the ‘Thick Crust’, but was told they were sold out of that style and only had ‘Thin Crust’. Can’t they just take two ‘Thin Crust’ dough, combine it together and make a ‘Thick Crust’? Nah, that would throw of their inventory numbers. Common’ now, this is franchise involving corporate. Gotta’ keep the number “right”. Tell that to a mom ‘n pop Pizzeria and they’d probably have the mob aftah’ yah’. lol

Accompanying their ‘Shakey’s Special’ was a side of their ‘Mojo’s’…

Mojo’s – Sliced Potatoes, lightly battered and fried to golden brown. $2.99 half order ($4.99 full order)

Rounding out their dinner, some Wings…

Spicy Wings with Ranch Sauce. $10.99/8 pieces

Here’s a closer look at each one of that on a plate…

An even closer look at that what I would have aptly named “Meatlover’s Pie”…

A bite-through view of the ‘Mojo’s’…

So what’s the verdict?

Pretty good, but certainly not “The World’s Greatest Pizza” as they declare on their menu.

He said the thin crust had a great toasty “thing” goin’ on, while having good rigidity and substance; not being soggy or saggy in the center  (which thin crusts can suffer from for various reasons). While he has yet to try Shakey’s ‘Thick Crust’, until then, he’s giving “Best Chain Pizza” to Pizza Hut’s Deep Dish model, which is one of my faves for sure!

Oddly enough, he says the Marinara sauce tasted a bit on the sweet side. Not where it ruined it, but enough where you noticed it. Which has me asking you folks who’ve been to Shakey’s recently whether you had that same impression. I’m curious.

Along with that toasty thin crust, the generous toppings certainly satisfied their pizza hunger, with that one large pie more than enough for the four of them (2 adult, 1 teen and one child). I’m personally (at least vicariously) digging all them olives and ‘shrooms tossed on there!

As for the ‘Mojos’, they were very tender inside the fairly-thin scallop-sliced potatoes, and golden-crispy-fresh-made outside, or “GBD” (golden-brown-delicious), with just a mild hint of spicy seasoning mixed in the batter coating. Diner A did say the Ranch Dipping sauce from the Wings was a big help kickin’ it up. While they enjoyed it, he thinks for the extra price, the ‘Mojo Supreme’ with all the Nacho style toppings would be the way to go next time around.

The wings had a sweet honey glaze to it, while being tender inside, but he didn’t necessarily say juicy. Although he could be wrong, he thinks they’re shipped frozen and baked (not deep-fried) to order. Definitely not made from scratch, which is nearly impossible to find at franchise operations. It’s just the nature of the business. Everything from the dough to the sauce to the sides are all centrally-made and shipped out frozen.

Overall, considering the clean, fresh and modern theme, family-fun atmosphere, the nostalgia factor (for Diner A and his wife as adults who grew up and remember the original here in Hawaii), overall good-yet-not-great pizza and sides and fair prices, they give the new Shakey’s in Waipahu 3 SPAM Musubi.

Shakey’s Pizza Parlor
Waipahu Town Center
94-060 Farrington Hwy #D3
Waipahu, HI 96797

Tel. (808) 677-1919

Shakey’s Waipahu location menu (<—click to download PDF)

P.S. Diner A’s Shakey’s Pizza “Doggy Bag” (or should we call it “Banjo Bag”)….

19 thoughts on “First Bite: Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Waipahu

  • March 25, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Oh wow, I haven’t been to a Shakey’s in ages! That’s so cool that Waipahu got one!

  • March 25, 2010 at 5:46 am

    I still vividly remember the K-town Shakey’s. Long rows of communal tables with the bar at the far end (only adults allowed in that section), Mr Naipo throwing flour against the glass while you watched him prep dough and the blistered cooked pizza with papaa sections that added to the flavor…

  • March 25, 2010 at 7:36 am

    Pomai, I like this new Shakey. I remember as a kid they had in Honolulu entertainment like barber shop singers and band. It was in the 1970. In California Round Table certain places like Daly City and San Francisco have daytime Pizza Buffets all you can eat and salad bar and drinks.

  • March 25, 2010 at 10:19 am

    I vaguely remember the Shakeys in Waipahu from when I was a kid. I remember how much I LOVED going and how good the pizza was. Shakeys and Farrells were nirvana to my younger self back then. Glad to see that it’s back.

  • March 25, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Pomai! However, I can almost guarantee Shakey’s stuck it out longer than 1980 – I know all their press is saying “30-year absence,” but I’m thinking they closed out maybe ’82 or ’83, when they turned over to Round Table Pizza.

    At any rate, I’ve got to make it down to try the new place out!

  • March 26, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Pomai I remember eating at places like Chico’s Pizza and the Red Lion Inn, I think the Red Lion was down on Kuhio Ave. block over from Kings Alley and of course there was the famous Magoos delivery in the VW Bugs. Chico’s had a pizza called the home towner with C. Bacon and Mushrooms and after it was baked they layed thin fresh sliced tomatoes on top, the hot with the cold was best taste ever. I think they all served a thin crust. Shakeys had the Banjo players and said they served fun and also pizza.

  • March 26, 2010 at 11:44 am

    John, the building Chico’s Pizza used to be in is now occupied by City Mill’s Kaimuki store. Diner E used to go to Chico’s every now and then. He said it was a popular drinking spot for UH students back in the day, which makes sense since they’re right up the corner from St. Louis drive.

    Now there’s a great memory. The Magoo’s Pizza VW Bug Delivery cars! I kinda’ remember that! I wonder if anyone’s got a photo of one? That’d be classic!

    Brian, my memory is very cloudy on when Shakey’s left Oahu. I do remember when Pizza Hut came to town (in Kaneohe), their restaurant there (across Windward City Shopping Center) was one of the most popular family restaurants in the 96744. It was always PACKED. We used to love eating there.

    Syndrax, I have yet to get on over to Farrell’s. If I had children, I’d definitely take them there for their birthday just for old time’s sake. And then I’d have them deliver Fire Alarm “Honolulu Zoo” ice cream to me. Not the kids. lol

    Michael, the former Honolulu Shakey’s restaurant on Koreamoku street is  now occupied by Sorabol Korean Restaurant. They’re in the same building Shakey’s was in! Never did knock it down.

    The new Waipahu Shakey’s has an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for $12.99, which includes pizza, pasta and salad. Good deal. I’d go if they were closer by my place. Waipahu’s too far for me (typical islander mentality lol).

    Ryan, slightly off topic, but if I decide to get a personalized vanity plate for my car, I think I’m going to go with K-TOWN. Thanks for the suggestion! :-)

    But wow, you even remember the pizza cooks NAME! What else do you remember about Shakey’s Kaneohe? I’d like to be refreshed more on what the decor looked like. Did it have a brick facade on the walls? Or was it concrete or wood? I forget!

    Wasabi Prime, I wasn’t even aware Waipahu HAD a Shakey’s back in the day. At that young age, my folks probably never did drive to Waipahu with me in the car.

  • March 26, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Diner E is right we drank many a pitcher of house mixed wine coolers and beer while we ate the pizza. I still mix up coolers a home to remember the good times. At the Red Lion it was just beer.

  • March 27, 2010 at 6:30 am

    I’ve never been to Shakey’s–I don’t even remember Shakey’s. I must be too young =). LOL! but can’t wait to go to this one and try it out–and neat they have an arcade!

  • March 27, 2010 at 11:16 am

    Back in ’64-’65 when I was in HS, Shakey’s was basically a theme-typed restaurant based on the gay 90s piano pubs called the Ye Ole Public House as I recall. I was too young to order the special dark bock beer but their special 17″ giant pizza called the Public House Special was our favorite. It was loaded with dripping mozzerella cheese, pepperoni, and diced pepperocini on top of a thin crusted pie shell. I believe this Shakey’s was on Nimitz?

  • March 27, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    If you think it’s important to make your friend’s family anonymous in your pictures, why would you think it is ok to show pictures with the faces of strangers and their children without anyone’s consent?

  • March 28, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    I took my family to Shakey’s in Waipahu this weekend and I’m sad to say it was very dissapointing and I probably won’t ever return. The food was terrible. A frozen DiGiorno pizza tastes better than what we ate. The salad bar seemed to be a bunch of items that came from a bag at Costco and was limited to iceberg lettuce, shredded carrots, sliced red onions and sliced cucumbers. The chicken was dry. The mojos were okay. To make matters worse, both me and my daughter had the runs when we got home.

    My memory of Shakey’s back in the 1970’s was good pizza, blue wooden picnic tables, banjo and organ music, low hanging tiffany lamps, dim lighting and the ye old pizza parlor atmosphere. This was more like eating $5 Tombstone frozen pizza at a Sizzler’s.

  • June 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I LOVE THE NEW SHAKEYS!!!! I take my kids all the time and we share a number five combo which is pizza and strips and mojos for less than $20. I saw the comment about the games being $1 each but only a few of them are. Most of them are only one token. My kids like it better than Chuckee Cheese…that says a lot. Maybe you should try it again. I think the pizza is the best since Godfather’s Pizza. I’ll be back for sure.

  • June 17, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    looks really great. The food looks really good.& the game room looks fun and the prizes are alot! That counter lady looks cute.

  • June 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Abby, well it looks like you need visit Shakey’s sometime soon. lol

    Chrissy, wow your comment is sure contrasting to that of “Papa John”. Glad that you pointed out that only a few games are $1 and the others are just 1 token (25 cents). That was actually a surrogate review for Diner A, as I personally haven’t tried their pizza yet. Yet, now after your impression, I’m looking forward to it!

    Papa John, thanks for the refreshment on the original Shakey’s decor. I only so vaguely remember it. Sounds like you caught them on a really bad day. But yeah, like the new Farrell’s, the new Shakey’s appears to be too modern and “clean”. IIRC, Shakey’s (Kaneohe location) had a more rustic, run-down look, in a good way.

    I don’t get it, well, Diner A’s wife and kid were looking straight at the camera, while the other people were just in the background doing their own thing (most of whom looking the other way). Besides, I consider a crowd in the background a “collateral” part of the photo, with no intent of taking someones picture without consent.

    Clinton, that Public House Special sounds fantastic. I notice their current menu doesn’t have that.

    sagemom, thanks for rubbing it in. You probably don’t remember LP records either. Anyone who remembers playing LP records either work as a DJ, or, like me, they’re simply OLD now. lol

    John, wine coolers, beer and pizza? Now THAT sounds like a recipe for hangover and  stomach ache the next morning if I ever heard of one!

  • September 3, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I remember the kaneohe Shakey’s very well. Long tables, a banjo player, and a funny game on the wall with an bow and arrow that lit up

  • September 4, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Jeff, I sure wish someone had pictures or video of the Kaneohe Shakey’s. I absolutely do not remember noticing that bow and arrow game.

    My most vivid memory of the former Kaneohe Shakey’s is the guy making and spinning the pizza dough in the front behind the glass window, along with the long communal bench tables and game room in back. That’s about it.

  • December 8, 2010 at 10:10 am

    hoooo der pizza looks fawken winnahz i cant wait to try sum a dat brah fo reelz looks ONO. not to mention I hope I get hired tomorrow pleez God help meeh…..alojahz…..DuB u Es BeE SoLjAh Fo’ LiFe

  • January 11, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Hello, I am trying to find the name and address of a pizza place my told me was there when they lived in kaneohe in the early 70s. Do you remember if Shakey’s had a piano in it? My dad says the place had a piano in it… and they lived right behind it. Thanks


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