The Sweetest Story of All at Larry’s Bakery

Cover Story Features

August 19, 2012

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Leah Friel

It’s a sweet family affair at Larry’s Bakery on Lawehana Street in Salt Lake, where this renowned establishment is consistently buzzing with loyal customers on a sugar high. Larry’s Bakery first opened its doors in the 1960s at its original location in Waimalu Shopping Center, then owned and operated by Larry Yafuso, who perfected the art of baking at Dunwoody baking school in Minnesota. Today, you’ll find his children Iris and Lance Yafuso spearheading the bakery, along with the rest of the Yafuso clan.

“My dad passed away in 1979 from a massive brain aneurysm,” Iris says. “It was hard on the family, but we knew we had to keep the bakery going — my dad was always very hardworking, giving and courageous. He always said to keep up with the times and don’t stay stagnant or else you won’t get ahead.”

And with those words and the memory of her father always in her heart, Iris keeps her father’s legacy alive by scratch-baking classic desserts and pastries, including apple and coconut sticks, cinnamon twists, and Chantilly and Dobash cakes, which the bakery is known for.

“I’m happy that Larry’s Bakery has been able to grow and prosper. I’m very proud of my children for being able to keep up with something that their father started — in fact, doing more than what he did,” says Iris’ mother, Irene Yafuso. Irene will turn 80 years old in a couple of weeks, but remains forever young, spending countless hours at the bakery.

“I come in at 3 every morning,” she states. “I man the oven, frost the cakes, cook the rice and bake the pastries in the morning. I’m at the bakery every day of the week — I have nothing else to do,” Irene says with a laugh, although she admits that working at the bakery keeps her going strong.

“This is my family, and I really enjoy working with them. It’s nice to see my grandchildren helping out too,” she says. “I know Larry is smiling down on us. I just want him to know that we’re doing our best.”

Larry’s Bakery initially began as a retail bakery, prior to transforming into a wholesale bakery for 10 years. Most recently, the establishment reverted back to retail, and business is doing better than ever.

“We are fully stocked with pastries every morning; we’re running out of space,” Iris explains. “But we can’t complain. Starting tomorrow (Monday), we’ll also be adding a handful of items to the menu.”

These items that she speaks of are actually made with Larry’s original recipes from the early 1950s, which, according to Iris, are all transcribed in perfect script in his many handmade cookbooks.

So, be ready to satisfy your sweet tooth with Pineapple Boat ($1.65), Peach Cream Cake ($8.50-$89.95 depending on size), Bear Claws ($1.20) and Jelly Doughnuts ($1.50).

“We’ve gained so many new customers and have reconnected with loyal customers throughout the years, and a lot of them remember my dad’s old recipes, so we’ve decided to bring them back,” Iris explains.

Pineapple Boat features a flaky turnover with a jelly-filled crushed pineapple center, brushed gently with a sugar glaze. Iris describes this tempting Larry’s Bakery classic as something you won’t find anywhere else. Peach Cream Cake is another dessert that many customers have been begging for. It features a fluffy white chiffon cake and a decadent custard cream frosting intertwined with the sweetest bits of peaches. Bear Claws are the epitome of must-have bakery delights — a Danish dough filled with almond paste and sprinkled with roasted almonds. Lastly, Jelly Doughnuts are irresistible to all palates as they feature a signature doughnut oozing with strawberry jelly and topped off with a dash of powdered sugar.

“We always listen to our customers, and they wanted these classics back, so here they are,” Iris says with a smile. “I don’t think anything has totally changed — perhaps a tweak here and there, but everything is from my dad’s original recipes. My hope is to stick with his old recipes and give them a bit of modern flair. To keep up with the times, we’ve taken old recipes and have turned them into something new.”

Enter Larry’s Bakery’s parfaits, which also will hit the menu tomorrow. Parfaits are priced at $1.95 each and are available in alluring flavors of red velvet, chocolate fudge, peach cream, haupia, chantilly, white chantilly, dream cake and haupia dobash.

“What we’ve done is we’ve taken all the flavors of our cakes and turned them into parfaits. Now you can have your own mini cake in a cute little cup and not feel so guilty — they’re perfect for parties,” Iris states, noting that you must special order the parfaits a few days in advance.

And breaking the “cookie-cutter mold,” Larry’s Bakery breathes new life on your typical cookie ($1-$6 each) with a plethora of hand-decorated designs and custom-made photo cookies.

“We have been selling cookies for a while, but we’ve really started to offer a lot more variety and styles to go with every occasion,” says Iris.

As the years go on, blood, sweat and tears have been poured into Larry’s Bakery, and for the Yafusos, manning the bakery is a simple way of honoring the man who had given them so much.

“Knowing that I’m working to help keep my dad’s legacy alive really helps me wake up early every morning and keeps me motivated,” Iris says. “It’s exciting. A few weeks ago we also started selling our products at Momilani Farmers Market at Momilani Community Center in Pearl City on Fridays from 3 to 7 p.m.

“My father has had a great impact on my life and the lives of many others. I just hope he’s happy.”

Yes, once everything is said and done, the sweetest blessing of all is a father’s legacy that will live on forever.

Larry’s Bakery

4369 Lawehana St., B-2, Honolulu
Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-1 p.m.
Saturday, 6 a.m.-noon
Closed Sunday

Honolulu, HI 96818

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Hawaii's Best