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Big City Diner closing Kaimuki location after 26 years

CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                People gathered to watch the Little League World Series championship game at Big City Diner in Kaimuki on Aug. 28, 2022.
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CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

People gathered to watch the Little League World Series championship game at Big City Diner in Kaimuki on Aug. 28, 2022.

Honolulu’s Big City Diner will be serving its last meals at its Kaimuki location today after nearly 26 years in business.

Owner Lane Muraoka said he made the difficult decision to close the restaurant due to the high cost of doing business and the challenges of hiring staff for the Waialae Avenue eatery.

“Since the pandemic, it’s been extremely challenging,” Muraoka told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “and the cost of doing business in Hawaii has always been highest in nation but it’s gotten worse over the years, with the increase in minimum wage, increase in insurance, increase of electricity, gas, food … The list goes on and on.”

The Kaimuki restaurant was the original location of Big City Diner, according to Muraoka, which opened in August 1998, serving brunch items, burgers, and comfort food like kimchee fried rice.

Muraoka said he will be serving meals today until food and beverage items run out. The restaurant hours are usually from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but the restaurant may close earlier if supplies run out.

He is selling the framed photos on the walls, along with restaurant equipment and supplies at the location.

Muraoka said he will miss the neighborhood, which is made up of mostly small businesses and restaurants, along with longtime customers, who have been pouring in to eat their last meals and to say goodbye.

“It’s sad because there are so many great memories here,” he said. “So many relationships were started here, and so many prospered over 25 years.

Several dozen part-time employees will either depart, retire, or transfer to other Big City Diner locations, he said.

Muraoka’s four other Big City Diner locations at Pearlridge Center, Waipio Shopping Center, Windward Mall at Kaneohe, and Kailua Town Center will remain open.

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