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Feb 18, 2013 01:23 PM

Oldest Eatery In Hawaii?

First I was going to say in Honolulu, then I was going to expand to Oahu, but I figured might as well include the whole state.

I'm guessing that the House Without a Key probably has a good shot at this honor, although it has been rebuilt at least once, but references go back to at least 1925. Wo Fat in chinatown went back to 1882, but it closed a few years ago.

Oahu Country Club goes back to 1906, and the Pacific Club goes all the way back to 1851 in one incarnation or another, but those are private clubs and I'm not sure they could be included in the category, even though they serve food. And while the Moana was opened in 1901 it doesn't appear to have a continuously operating restaurant from anywhere near that time, nor does the Royal Hawaiian opened in 1927.

Any other nominees for oldest? Or even very old? Seems in this town anything more than 20 years old is old, although there are a few places like The Willows that go back as far as the postwar period.

House without a Key 1925
Sekiya's 1935
The Willows 1944

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  1. OK, you want:

    Still operating
    Served food publicly
    Continuous operation

    I was thinking the restaurant at the Lahaina Inn, but it seems that they got started in 1938, and I cannot find out if the restaurant has been in continuous operation. Somehow, I thought much older, like in the "whaling days?"

    Good one,


    1. Helena's is 1946 and Highway Inn is 1947.

      The Manago Hotel in Captain Cook opened in 1917 although I'm not sure if the dining room started at the same time. It sure looks old! Love their pork chops.

      Great topic KM.

      1 Reply
      1. re: curiousgeo

        Manago Hotel is my guess too. I believe the owners started to feed their guests because in the 1920's there were few/no other places travellers could eat in that part of the Big Island.

      2. Not a restaurant, but Tasaka Guri Guri on Maui is over 90 years old, I don't know the year it opened though. My mom ate their as a young child and she would be 86 today.

        1. Char Hung Sut gotta be up there somewhere? The Mau family must have had that place probably when King Kamehameha was alive I'm betting? Nah, I'm just kidding but I remember my grandmother going to Chinatown and picking up dim sum and take out every weekend when everyone shopped in the open markets on Maunakea and Kekauliki Streets years ago.

          1. Honu2 and curiousgeo made me think about other places that would be likely. Lahaina was an important place for visitors before Honolulu was, is there anyplace there that has been around that long?

            And then I remembered that the Volcano House was feeding visitors from the very beginning as well, and it was founded in 1846. I'm just not sure it has been continuous (not including the various shut downs for fires, relocation, renovation, etc.) That would even predate the Pacific Club.

            3 Replies
            1. re: KaimukiMan

              I thought about Volcano House too, but I think the restaurant service closed during the last year or two, after the lease expired. It may have reopened now, but no food was being served in November.

              1. re: honu2

                I'm attributing that to them doing the renovation, for a period the entire volcano house was closed. But it gets tricky with all the hotels. In the case of the Halekulani, one part was always called "The House Without a Key", with the other hotels I don't know if they always served food - probably, but the names and locations of the main dining rooms moved around and changed. So even if the Volcano House did always serve food, it doesn't automatically mean it is the oldest. After the demise of Wo Fat's there is probably reason to question any restaurant's ability to a clear claim on the title. On the other hand I like knowing who the contenders would be. Food for thought as they say (or we say as chowhounds.)

              2. re: KaimukiMan

                I was also thinking about Lahaina Town, since it was a "whaling village" in the 1890's, but could not find anything still around from that time. Maybe others will have better luck, and better memories?