Restaurant Insider with Anne Lee: Big City Diner

Restaurant Insider

September 22, 2019

Story By: Anne Lee | Photos by: ANTHONY CONSILLIO

Corporate executive chef Dennis Franks, left, Anne Lee and owner Lane Muraoka

ANNE LEE speaks with DENNIS FRANKS, corporate chef and LANE MURAOKA, owner and president

After his coach got him a job at the age of 16 washing dishes at Flamingo Chuck Wagon, Lane Muraoka started his career in the culinary industry and his adventures in the “Big City” have definitely blossomed hugely from there.

As owner and president of Big City Diner, Muraoka opened the first location of his eatery in Kaimuki during August of 1998.

“We were looking for a place that we could offer local American comfort food that Grandma used to make but even better,” Muraoka fondly recalls.

“We felt that the neighborhood needed a family-friendly gathering place, that offered breakfast, lunch, dinner seven days a week, where guests can come and have a beer or glass of wine, but not be a ‘bar,'” Muraoka explains.

Boneless Korean Kalbi Steak ($17.29)

Now BCD has grown to six locations on Oahu and also offers great catering packages. Besides Kaimuki, the other neighborhood eateries are in Ward Entertainment Center, Kailua, Windward Mall, Pearl-ridge East and Waipio Shopping Center.

Muraoka explains that he grew up in a family where the men loved to cook.

“Cooking was not something foreign to me. I also love arts and sports. The restaurant industry is very physical and very artistic — food is your paint, and the plate is your canvas basically. All that coming together made this a logical career choice for me,” Muraoka notes.

Dennis Franks, BCD’s corporate chef, started as a sous chef in a Waikiki Italian restaurant, joined BCD in 2001, then opened up the Kailua location in 2002. He eventually became the chef who now oversees the menus for all of the BCD locations, catering and events.

The Big City Cobb Salad ($15.49)

Muraoka and Franks, two local men who share the same mission and concept of serving excellent food — share more about the restaurant here:

AL: What type of cuisine does BCD specialize in?

LM AND DF: We are a diner but we are more of an upscale diner. We offer baby back ribs and fresh fish from the Fish Auction, handcut New York steaks, a different flair of flavors where it’s a little twist such as wasabi aioli and our guava barbecue rib sauce (which we bottle and sell at our restaurants). Things with miso ginger, a little different but still appealing. American cuisine with local flair. Whether you are from the mainland, military, a Japanese visitor or local we offer flavors that satisfy all palates.

AL: What does BCD bring to the Hawaii food scene?

LM AND DF: A welcoming feeling. We make our guests feel comfortable with the food and the service, not being overwhelming, but attentive. Trying to show as much aloha as we can. It’s challenging as we grow with more restaurants. We have over 100 employees. This restaurant is meant to be very comfortable and welcoming. We have business people, local celebrities, retirees, executives, political leaders, and we have tourists as well. Kids love us, too! We have little kids all the way to Grandma/Grandpa that enjoy our restaurant.

AL: What are some specialties and customer favorites?

LM AND DF: Our popular breakfast — Roasted Macadamia Nut Pancakes with Haupia Creme Sauce Big Stack ($10.49) and not so Big ($9.49) option. Our loco mocos are always a fan favorite, the original is $11.99 and Big Braddah’s Loco Moco is $16.99. Our Boneless Korean Kalbi Steak and Eggs ($16.49) are popular, and the Ani’s Awesome Cinnamon Bread French Toast Sandwich at $10.99, which comes with two fresh Kalei Eggs, honey cured bacon and breakfast link sausage. Grandma’s Incredible Kim Chee Fried Rice ($11.29, $12.29 to add two fresh local eggs). For lunch, Mac and Cheeseburger at 16.49, all American classic white cheddar macaroni and cheese topped with honey cured bacon. Our burgers and salads are also popular.

Loco Moco


• 2 generous scoops of rice
• 1/4 cup sauteed onions
• 1 grilled burger, any size
• 1/2 to 1 cup of gravy — the more, the better
• 2 large eggs


1. Place the two scoops of rice on a plate/bowl
2. Place the cooked hamburger patty on top of the rice
3. Spoon on the gravy
4. Top with the two eggs and serve

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