The restaurant's patriotic-sounding name was inspired by Colombian coffee
Special to the Star-Advertiser
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, May 27, 2011
The Columbia Inn was an island favorite in Honolulu for nearly 60 years. It was opened in 1941 by brothers Frank Kaneshiro and Fred "Tosh" Kaneshiro, about where the Chinese Cultural Center is today.
"The Columbia name sounds patriotic and American, but it came from Colombian coffee bags," says Tosh's son, Gene Kaneshiro. "My dad used to say that good coffee and good restaurants go together."
In 1964 Columbia Inn moved to the "Top of da Boulevard" — 645 Kapiolani, next to the newspaper building.
This picture shows something interesting on the side of the building. Old-timers will recognize it as the banner that occupied part of center field at Honolulu Stadium on King Street.
Hawaii Islanders who could hit a home run through the opening in the middle won $1,000. Walter "No Neck" Williams was the first to do so in 1968. Before Honolulu Stadium closed in 1976, Tosh Kaneshiro briefly hung it on the side of their building.
Columbia Inn at the "Top of da Boulevard" closed in 2001, and the site is now occupied by Lexus.
Bob Sigall, author of the "Companies We Keep" books, looks through his collection of old photos to tell stories each Friday of Hawaii people, places and companies. Email him at Sigall@Yahoo.com.