Honor Dad the Wailana Way

Cover Story Features

June 8, 2014

Story By: Alana Folen | Photos by: Anthony Consillio

Hawaii during the 1950s was a time where Hawaiian print shirts, sarong dresses and tropical flowers were deemed “fashion forward.” Poolside “Tiki” parties were the talk of the town, complete with tropical drinks adorned with little pink umbrellas. And it wasn’t long before restaurants and dance halls picked up on the fad and hosted tropical-themed dances with lounge-style musicians.

Kapiolani Drive Inn also was a popular spot for its car hop service and local grinds. Founded by Francis Tom, the drive-in’s 20 cent hamburgers, fried chicken, chop steak and teriyaki rib steak were a hit.

Fast-forward to 1969, the Wailana condominium was built and Wailana Coffee House replaced the legendary drive-in. Now owned and operated by Tom’s children, Wailana Coffee House is a coveted 24-hour hot spot famous for its home-cooked local fare and American classics at unbeatable prices.

Sylvia Noneza has been a server at this Waikiki coffee shop/diner for the past 29 years. As she diligently delivers plates stacked high with pancakes to a nearby table, it’s clear that Noneza is in her element.

“I love the busy atmosphere and our customers,” says Noneza, smiling as she looks upon the dining room, most tables filled with kamaaina and visitors happily munching away. “Wailana has its group of regulars who come all the time. Over the years, I have built relationships with people from the Mainland who come to Hawaii maybe three times a year. They’ve become like family to me.”

And with Father’s Day just around the corner, Wailana Coffee House pays tribute to Dad with its special Father’s Day menu available Sunday, June 15. For starters, the restaurant automatically brightens Dad’s day with its breakfast special of Eggs Benedict Royal ($10.50). This breakfast of champions presents toasted English muffin halves with smoked ham, turkey breast and poached eggs smothered in hollandaise sauce and served with crispy hash browns and glazed peach slices. A choice of coffee or tea accompanies the meal.

“On a side note, if Dad enjoys breakfast, Sweet bread French Toast ($7.85) is an excellent option,” Noneza adds. “Although it’s not part of our Father’s Day specials, it’s so delicious. It also comes with one egg and two strips of bacon.

“We always expect a great turnout on Father’s Day,” she says. “From 11 a.m. to midnight we’re offering meals that I know dads will love.”

Wailana Coffee House’s head chef Peter Chan and his kitchen staff operate like a well-oiled machine, completing order after order of New York Steak with Onion Rings ($16.95), Seafood Continental ($14.95) and Chicken Florentine ($13.50).

Now, what man doesn’t thoroughly enjoy a hearty, lean piece of steak? Especially when it’s a slab of New York steak cooked to his liking and paired with giant deep-fried, beer-battered onion rings and sauteed mushrooms.

Noneza confirms that the dish is a best-seller, as is Chicken Florentine. Fresh from the coop, tender breast of boneless chicken is placed atop a blanket of spinach and bacon, garnished with crab meat and doused with a liquid gold of rich hollandaise sauce.

In addition to the chosen entree, Wailana’s Father’s Day specials include access to the all-you-can-eat salad bar, a choice of baked or mashed potatoes, french fries or steamed rice, and corn on the cob. A sweet ending of Apple Crisp tops off the meal. Finally, wash it all down with a cup of coffee, tea or soft drink.

And if Dad prefers surf over turf, he will favor Seafood Continental, a trio of shrimp, scallops and mahi mahi gently simmered in a decadent sauce infused with fine herbs and wine.

It’s all about Dad, so, of course, a toast is in order. Why not celebrate with a glass of Burgundy, Rose or Chablis for $4.50?

Noneza advises families to make reservations beforehand, but notes walk-ins always are welcome.

“Wailana Coffee House has and always will be a place for families. Come and experience fast and friendly customer service, and exceptional food any time of the day,” Noneza says. “We are honored to be a part of any special occasion, including Father’s Day!”

Wailana Coffee House

1860 Ala Moana Blvd.
Open daily, 24 hours (Closed from 9:30 p.m. Tuesday to 6 a.m. Wednesday)
Note: Public parking available below the restaurant

Honolulu, HI 96815

Ilima Awards
Hawaii's Best