Longtime customers of Like Like Drive Inn never got a chance to order a final plate of buttery hot cakes, slice of Our Famous Lemon Chiffon Pie or meal of beef cutlet and gravy.
The last day of the 67-year-old landmark on Keeaumoku Street arrived without much warning. The restaurant had been closed since April 1, after trying to survive on takeout when restaurant dining rooms were shuttered in late March.
In a report on KHON-TV last week, owner Julie Tateyama said the family had hoped to eventually reopen, but “we had decided that we’re going to officially close” today.
Tateyama, whose grandparents opened the diner, could not be reached for comment.
James and Alice Nako started the family-run business in 1953, initially offering car-hop service. The restaurant featured American diner classics and the desserts popular at soda fountains during that era.
Tateyama told KHON that customers came not just for the food, but for the welcome they received from employees, some of whom had worked there for 40 to 50 years and were like family. Telling her close-knit staff about the closure was the hardest part, she said.
Comments on the restaurant’s Instagram account expressed regret:
>> “We are so sad to hear the sad news. My grandma always took me here, and her parents took her when she was a kid.”
>> “This broke my heart! My first date with husband (was) here. This is our Sunday place. I will miss this place more than you know. No one does fried rice like you.”
One customer from New York City wrote: “Thank you for having opened your doors and bringing family and friends together to talk story and have the best loco moco. And the saimin, oh how I will miss you. Feels like a member of the family is leaving.”