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Wailana Coffee House

Step Up to the Plate

September 16, 2018

Story By: Elima Pangorang |

A CLOSER LOOK AT THIS WEEK’S HOUSE SPECIAL: HAWAIIAN LUAU DINNER ($18.50)

Take a step into Wailana Coffee House on Ala Moana Boulevard, and you wouldn’t even guess the bustling diner would be closing its doors permanently in the coming month. As is the saddening fact, however, after nearly half a century of serving the hungry community, the beloved coffee house has reached the end of a wonderful era.

If there is any piece of good news from this, it’s that Wailana’s original close date has been pushed back to Oct. 14. That means there’s still 28 days to savor the classic diner — and the restaurant is not holding back on the countdown, as it has specials lined up for all of its customers, new and returning.

Wailana invites everyone to “Come join the feast” with its Aloha Week Specials being offered on Sept. 28 and 29 from 11 a.m. to midnight. Delightful dinner specials include Hawaiian Luau Dinner ($18.50), Teriyaki Striploin Steak ($19.50) and Hibachi Chicken & Shrimp Kabobs ($17.95).

All of the dinners come with the famous all-you-can-eat salad bar, homemade soup or tropical fruit cocktail, and coffee, tea or a soft drink. Meanwhile, the teriyaki and hibachi dinners further include baked or mashed potato, french fries or rice, corn on the cob and haupia pudding.

For the early risers, take a last bite of Wailana’s exclusive Portuguese Sweet Bread Combo ($11.95) — a personal favorite of general manager Kenton Tom — which features thick slices of King’s sweet bread with pockets of orange marmalade.

On top of these sweet deals is a treat for kamaaina — local residents will receive a 10-percent discount starting Sept. 23 until the day of closing (Oct. 14).

From Wailana’s special offerings to its regular menu, and even just its ambience, take the time to make a few last stop-ins to this charming diner that holds a lot of history and memories, according to Tom.

“My father started being in the restaurant business in 1947. In 1949, he bought this piece of land. There was nothing here,” recalls Tom. “You gotta remember, this is like 60-something years ago, and everybody thought he was crazy.”

It seems “crazy” turned out to work in his father’s favor because the eatery became a mainstay for the community and island visitors.

In addition to its customers, especially his “regulars,” Tom says, “I’m going to miss all the employees. They’ve been working hard to keep everyone happy. We’ve had a lot of employees here for 25, 30 years. They really established rapport with customers. I’m really proud of them.”

One such employee is Sharon Bennett who has been with Wailana since 1978. “The Tom family is so nice and treated my family well. I met my husband here, he used to work here. We got married, and had a family and we are still together,” she shares. With the memories and good times she’s built at Wailana she says, “I’m sad to see it go, but you know, as they say, ‘All good things come to an end.'”

After a successful 48 years, it’s no doubt Wailana Coffee House was more than a good thing in many diners’ hearts.

“(We built one of) Waikiki’s finest family restaurants. A place people can come to have a friendly atmosphere, really good food and all at a moderate price,” concludes Tom.

Slurp it up

Chicken long rice is a nice break for palates, as the light, delectable broth offsets the rich bites of pork and laulau.

The works

No Hawaiian plate is complete without the classic sides of lomi lomi salmon, poi and haupia — all of which are made in-house.

Pork for your fork

The house-made kalua pig provides a smoky, savory bite that will leave you wanting more.

Fit for an alii

The hefty, juicy portion of laulau will make you feel like the chief of the village.

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