Still Going Strong

Cover Story

November 19, 2023

Story By: Dining Out Team | Photos by: LAWRENCE TABUDLO

Father and daughter Wayne Akimoto (right) and Chelsea Akimoto keep things running at St. Louis Drive In.

Although St. Louis Drive In has been around for more than 60 years, it never seems to get old. The eatery, located across the street from Saint Louis School and Chaminade University, is known for its generous portions and reasonable prices.

Owner Wayne Akimoto says his staff uses the same time-tested recipes handed down years ago.

Beef Stew ($10.50)

Although digital menus now hang behind the eatery’s walk-up takeout window, there are still hand-written signs, too. St. Louis Drive In remains one of the few places that still serves the Green River drink, and folks still leave spare change on the takeout window ledge for others to grab as needed. It’s an honor system tradition that dates back decades.

The dine-in section remains closed, but loyal customers still line up for takeout.

St. Louis Drive In is located on Waialae Avenue.

We caught up with Akimoto to learn more about this Kaimuki institution.

DO: What is your typical day at St. Louis Drive In like?

(Clockwise, from top left) Ahi Belly ($12), Beef Stew ($10.50), Roast Pork ($10.50) and Japanese Plate Deluxe ($13.50)

WA: My day at St. Louis Drive In starts at 2 a.m. I come in and set up everything and start the cooking for my daughter (kitchen manager Chelsea Akimoto) until the first crew comes in at 5 a.m., when we open. We start doing a lot of the prep and the cooks take care of the food. Then, I go to the bank to get change. I have lunch, then I go home and start doing paperwork.

Roast Pork ($10.50)

DO: What is your favorite dish?

WA: For me, I like our stews, our beef and curry stews. It tastes really good in the morning for breakfast. I have it with rice and some tossed greens and some macaroni salad.And a Coca-Cola. I also like the roast pork and the spareribs. The spareribs are made very simply, but they’re good.

Ahi Belly ($12)

DO: What are the three most popular dishes?

WA: Our Japanese Plate Deluxe ($13.50) comes with mochiko chicken, teri beef, sashimi, shrimp tempura, two scoops of rice and tossed greens. Our Fresh Seafood Plate ($14) comes with fresh mahi mahi, sashimi, shrimp tempura, tossed greens and two scoops of rice. And our Seafood Bento ($12.50) comes with salmon, shrimp tempura, grilled teriyaki ahi and a piece of imitation scallop with tartar sauce.

Japanese Plate Deluxe ($13.50)

DO: What specials will you have for Thanksgiving?

WA: Well, we’re going to be closed for Thanksgiving but on Wednesday, Nov. 22, we’ll have a Roast Turkey Plate ($10.70). That’s roast turkey, stuffing, two scoops of rice and a choice of tossed greens or mac salad.

DO: Why does St. Louis Drive In continue to be popular with customers?

WA: I think a lot of it has to do with the location. It’s a convenient location in Kaimuki. Right now, we are experiencing a shortage of workers, therefore our service times might be slower, but please bear with us. We’re trying our best to serve all our customers.

3145 Waialae Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

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