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Kenny’s… In the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi’eee

Being an icon in the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi for all these years since 1966, you’re now leaving us, Kenny’s, and it’s very difficult to say goodbye to you.

I remember visiting you often when I was a keiki, when my sister Keanu was attending Kamehameha School up the hill. My dad or grandma would take us to you — Kenny’s — after school, or on the weekend to grab a bite from your coffee shop, or from your burger house nearby. Not to mention Pete’s Model Craft, my other favorite place there “back in the day”.

That said, throughout all the wonderful DECADES you served us your ono ‘kine grindz, we will ALWAYS remember you most as “Kenny’s… in the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi’eee”.

On my visit on this day before they’re closing, I sat down and had a wonderful conversation with John Fujieki, Jr., owner of Kenny’s Restaurant. Coming from being the former President of Star Maret, John is a super down to earth and warm hearted guy. He’s a great soul. So much so, we actually literally shed a tear together over talking about how symbolic Kenny’s is to the local community who grew with the restaurant.

While John couldn’t go into details about what will replace Kenny’s, he did throw out the possibility that there’s a prospective opportunity from some big wigs in Hollywood who want to continue the business as Kenny’s. But don’t quote anyone on that. I shall keep that in my prayers.

An institution and icon in our collective memory, Kenny’s Restaurant will close its doors of operation on Sunday, July 5, 2015, serving Hawaii since 1966.

*Sheds and sobs major tears*


Kenny’s Kama’aina Chopped Steak plate ~ 7.4.15


Kenny’s Roast Turkey plate ~ 7.4.15


Aurora of Kenny’s ~ 7.4.15


Ana of Kenny’s ~ 7.4.15


Imelda of Kenny’s ~ 7.4.15


Davis of Kenny’s ~ 7.4.15


John Fujieki, Jr., owner of Kenny’s Restaurant, enjoying breakfast ~ 7.4.15


Braddah Mike and Pomai with John Fujieki, Jr. @ Kenny’s “In the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi’eee” ~ 7.4.15


John Fujieki, Jr., owner of Kenny’s Restaurant (and previously President of Star Market) with Pomai Souza ~ 7.4.15


Kenny’s Restaurant “in the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi’eee” ~ 7.4.15 (Kenny’s will close its doors tomorrow, July 5, 2015)

17 thoughts on “Kenny’s… In the Kam Shopping Center in Kalihi’eee

  • July 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm
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    Another old style restaurant closes. Pretty soon no one will know what Chopped Steak is.

    Reply
    • July 5, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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      Pat,

      So true. Or how about Grilled Liver, served with crispy Bacon, smothered with Sauteed Onions? Kenny’s served that too. HARD CORE local style comfort food!

      Reply
  • July 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm
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    Life without chopped steak, now I know we might have a problem. Remember the chopped steak from Columbia Inn? I’ve tried to replicate it for years and quit trying.  When I worked there many years ago I remember the cooks adding some kind of wine? to it and it was onolishious. If anyone has the recipe, please share. Really sad to see Kenny’s close.

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  • July 6, 2015 at 3:38 am
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    Pomai:  Do you know why they are closing down?  Is business bad or something?  And your post says they opened in 1966…is this correct?  Could be, but I cannot remember exactly.  Kenny’s Drive-Inn opened before that right?  I used to hang out there in my high school days and when I was chasing the Farrington High School girls!  And didn’t Kenny Kaneshiro originally owned those eateries?  I used to live by the Kaneshiro family in Waialae Iki.

     

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  • July 6, 2015 at 12:10 pm
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    When I was young, after surfing Polihale on the West side called Fah Inn. It was a tiny Chinese-Local place with husband and wife. A huge family style plate of chopped steak was $2, the rice bowl .50 cents. Could feed three and that how many plates and settings brought out. We called the Fah Out.

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  • July 7, 2015 at 1:33 am
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    My mother and late father use at Kenny for breakfasts and lunchs.  They love

    neighborhood pace which Kenny had.  No waikiki tourists pace.and food for the

    local people to enjoyed. People hold on to diners eateries more than fancy

    restaurants where they meet friends and family and dine together.

    Reply
  • July 10, 2015 at 6:00 am
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    @ Erica – You know what Kenny’s Chopped Steak reminded me of (the one in the plate shown above)? Local style Chinese Beef Tomato. It had that same flavor profile. I thought it would be more basic shoyu flavor, however as it obviously appears, it had elements of tomato, bell peppers and the other variety of veggies in it.

    I vaguely remember Columbia Inn, which I can’t recall ever dining at (remember, I grew up in Kaneohe). Same for Wisteria.

    Some of the current places you can find local style Chopped Steak either as a regular item or special include Asahi Grill, Atkinson Grill and Side Street Inn and Jane’s Fountain… not saying they’re all good at it. Mo’ bettah make your own Chopped Steak. Easy!

    @ Alan – According to this story in Pacific Business News, owner John Fujieki has personal health issues  (he recently suffered a stroke), and felt it’s time to close the business. “It was coming — it was just a matter of when,”, said John Fujieki, Jr.. According to KITV, yes, Kenny’s opened in 1966. The restaurant is named after Kenny Kaneshiro, co-founder of the restaurant. Kenny’s Burger House came later.

    @ Pat – AH, Polihale beach on Kauai’s West side… man, that’s what you call way out in the boonies! And that beach is HUGE! I bet after a long day out in the ocean, Fah Inn’s Chopped Steak really was “Fah Out”!

    When I used to work in the ocean (literally) on the North side of Oahu, we used to occasionally stop by for grindz at this place called Country Kitchen in Kaa’awa. Brah, I swear, they had DA’ BES’ Loco Moco bowl! IIRC, at the time (early 90s), it was just $2.50. I’m sure the ocean spray from the beach right across the street had lots to do with what made their Loco Moco so special. Ah, sure miss those simple, laid back beach days out in the country!

    @ Amy – Don’t forget Wailana Coffee House in Waikiki is still around and doing strong, serving all the local comfort dishes you could ask for. I think they even do Chopped Steak as a special!

    Reply
  • July 22, 2015 at 4:25 pm
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    remeber the okazuya section of Kennys?  That was good and very close to home for me.

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  • November 4, 2015 at 6:56 am
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    Found out the Asahi Grill taking over this location !!

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    • November 4, 2015 at 9:07 am
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      Dd,

      Wow, that’s fantastic news! Looks like they’ve come full circle, being their lineage roots back to Mr. Teruya, who started Kapiolani Coffee Shop and their famous Oxtail Soup, then later went on to offer it at Kam Bowl in “the Kam Shopping Center in Kali-heeeee” (I said it! lol).

      I say lose the name Asahi Grill, and simply call it Kalihi Coffee House. Or, Kamehameha Coffee House. <—-Winnah, right there!

      Reply
  • November 5, 2015 at 3:09 am
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    Pomai,  that great news of a new coffee shop there.  I hope they serve the

    famous oxtail soup .  The one thing I never like of that soup is peanuts.

    Rather leave it all at botton of the soup when done.  Mom use make it also

    and put peanuts in it too again I leave it at botton of soup or not serve me

    with peanuts.

    Reply
  • November 7, 2015 at 3:17 pm
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    This is great news that Asahi Grill is taking over the Kenny’s location. No need to drive to town for some ono Oxtail soup. Yeah and leave out the peanuts.

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  • November 7, 2015 at 9:25 pm
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    More peanuts please, as that’s the Chinese influence in the dish. LOVE THE PEANUTS! ;-)

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  • January 27, 2016 at 4:17 pm
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    Doe’s anybody know when Kam Bowl/ Aashi Grill is going to open at the Kenny’s location?

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  • January 31, 2016 at 10:26 am
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    TT,

    Last I read, they were targeting to open in February. I hear the KAM BOWL sign is already up.

    Still, I’d give them a few months before going there so they can iron out the kinks.

    When Liliha Bakery first opened their second location on Nimitz Hwy, folks SLAMMED THEM on Yelp for poor customer service. Well, DUH! What do you expect when a business first opens! So bad, they were averaging about 1.5 stars out of dozens to 100’s of reviews. The reviews on service have of course — for the most part — vastly improved since then.

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  • April 13, 2017 at 2:39 am
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    I visited Hawaii for the first time in 1972 and I heard the “Kenny’s” jingle on the radio.  I have remembered it all these years and it’s still a fresh memory.  Wish I could’ve eaten there.  Good places with a great atmosphere and great food are hard to find.

    Reply

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