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The Sweet Legacy at Larry’s Bakery

Cover Story Features

November 5, 2011

Story By: Dining Out Team |

He didn’t really get a chance to get the bakery to where he wanted it to be. But we’re doing our best to get it there. We’ve had our ups and downs, no doubt about it, but it’s our job to continue the dream of our dad.”

  • Alyssa Yafuso with Larry's Bakery's delicious pies ($13 each)
  • Spam Musubi ($2 fried rice, $1.50 white rice)
  • Larry's bentos are perfect breakfast options ($3.50 fried rice, $3 white rice)
  • Dobash, White Chantilly and Lilikoi cakes ($13 each)
  • Iris and brother Lance Yafuso with Larry's Bakery's favorites.
  • Terry Oshiro, Bryce Yafuso, Tyler Yafuso, Lance Yafuso (sitting), Milton Isimang, Nikki Tamashiro, Irene Yafuso (sitting, with photo of her late husband Larry), Natasha Souza, Jan Achiu, Iris Yafuso (sitting), Alyssa Yafuso, Hanam Mun and Brandon Debebar
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Those are the words of Iris Yafuso, who works diligently alongside her brother Lance, fulfilling a legacy all their own. Together they own Larry’s Bakery, a family-run business which first opened its doors in the 1960s at its original location in Waimalu Shopping Center (then known as Larry’s Waiau Bakery). Today, this famous bakery has planted its roots on Lawehana Street in Salt Lake near Target, and the man Iris speaks of is her beloved father Larry, for whom the bakery is named.

“My dad died suddenly in 1979, when I was 9 years old,” she says. “He had a massive brain anuerism, so he was here and gone the next day. And as far as recipes go, nothing was really written down — it was all in his head.”

Larry’s Bakery is home to its famed cinnamon bread, chantilly cake, apple and coconut sticks, cinnamon twists and Dobash cake, to name a few — all classics, according to Lance.

“Luckily my brother Keith and I were older, so we were able to help in the bakery when my dad was around. We actually had the opportunity to see everything in the works,” he recalls.

“We still have dad’s picture up in the main part of the bakery so he can watch over us,” Iris says with a smile. “After dad’s passing, my brother Keith would dream about dad’s recipes, and we knew it was a sign to keep the bakery going strong.”

Living lessons that guided them from the beginning, the Yafusos are well-aware that consistency and persistence, combined with every ounce of hard work, is the recipe for success. They were quick to learn that trials and tribulations only make you stronger.

“As a family business, you basically do what it takes to survive. We had to change with the times,” says Lance, who demonstrates a keen business sense and is a professional cake decorator at that. “The business changed when all the markets started offering bakeries as well.”

Larry’s Bakery initially made its mark as a retail bakery, prior to establishing itself as a wholesale bakery for 10 years. Most recently, the iconic establishment reverted back to retail, and despite the long hours endured on a regular basis, the proof is in the pudding. The Yafusos and the rest of their dedicated team start their workday before the sun, with a start time before 4 a.m., and from then on it’s non-stop baking until 1 p.m. when the bakery closes, only to prep for the next day.

“There’s something to do every minute, from making deliveries, to checking orders, to helping customers,” Iris states. “We still do wholesale deliveries to Don Quijote, The Waianae Store and Tamura’s Waianae. Pearl Country Club also carries our cakes and pies, and Sizzler restaurant uses our cinnamon bread for its French toast.”

And although scratch-baking has become seemingly obsolete in today’s world, here at Larry’s Bakery scratch-baking is the real deal — no frills.

“The custard in our long johns and Danishes is all homemade, even our frosting is scratch-baked,” Lance explains. “We continue to produce favorites from 30 years ago, while also thinking of new items every day.”

Known for its irresistible assorted pastries and cakes ($13 each), including white chantilly, Dobash and dream cake, Larry’s Bakery plays an essential role in satisfying your sweet tooth and providing the perfect treat for your next party or get together. In fact, Iris and Lance already are anticipating the rush of the holiday season. According to Lance, Larry’s Bakery easily sells 3,000 to 4,000 deep-dish pies for Thanksgiving alone. Loyal customers can’t wait to get their hands on the delec-table apple, custard, pumpkin, or the ever-popular pumpkin custard pie.

“It’s hard to come by original mom and pop bakeries that are still family run,” Iris says. “My mother, Irene, who soon will turn 80, still comes to the bakery every day and mans the oven in the morning, frosts the cakes, cooks the rice and writes all the invoices.

“We also have a lot of family friends who work here,” she states, referring to baker Milton Isimang, whom she’s known since the age of 18. Isimang previously served as a cook for the Halekulani and since joining Larry’s Bakery this past February, he already has been deemed creator of the establishment’s premier butter mochi and pumpkin butter mochi.

“Iris, Keith and I were brought into the business, but we didn’t want to force it upon our kids to also be a part of it,” Lance says. “But surprisingly, they just ended up joining the business — it’s natural for them.”

In fact, you’ll often find the younger generation taking orders, boxing items and restocking the pastry case. To get the best variety of items, it’s highly recommended that you place your order before noon. In addition to baked goods, local favorites such as bentos ($3 white rice, $3.50 fried rice) and Spam musubis ($1.50 white rice, $2 fried rice) also are available. All bentos come complete with your choice of white or fried rice served with scrambled eggs, two pieces of bacon or three pieces of Portuguese sausage.

So, as each bento is carefully prepared, each cake frosted, each pie baked, and with the perfect amount of sugar sprinkled atop each pastry, a father’s legacy lives on.

“You really have to love what you do — and we do,” Iris exclaims. “We always want to be involved with the bakery and be in the middle of it all. “That’s really the only way that I think it can work. The main ingredient in everything is always love.”

Larry’s Bakery

  • Where
    • 4369 Lawehana Street #3
    • Honolulu, HI 96818
  • Call
    • (808) 422-0059
  • Hours
    • 6 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    • Monday – Friday
    • 6 a.m. – noon
    • Saturday (holiday hours)