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Hawaii Business' SmallBiz 2013 Editor's Choice Awards

Hawaii small businesses are honored in five categories: New, Green, Woman-Owned, Innovation and Long-term Success

(page 4 of 5)

Yuka “Lisa” Nawano

Photo: David Croxford

Woman-Owned Business

Yuka “Lisa” Nawano

Eggs ’n Things

Nominators: Edie Tanicala and Dean Uyeda, Bank of Hawaii

Yuka “Lisa” Nawano considers herself, more than anything, the No. 1 fan of Eggs ’n Things.

Her love affair with the restaurant began almost 20 years ago, when she visited Hawaii from her native Japan as an 18-year-old and fell in love with the pancakes at the family-owned restaurant on Ena Road in Waikiki.

Nine years later, still obsessed with the food, Nawano approached owner Jan Fukunaga about bringing an Eggs ’n Things location to Japan.

“Jan asked if I had restaurant experience and I said, ‘No, but I’m a great fan of your pancakes, and I really want to do this,’ ” recalls Nawano. The two developed a friendship and kept in touch over the next decade.

In 2008, patience paid off when Fukunaga was ready to retire and asked Nawano if she would be interested in taking over the business. The rest is history.

Dean Uyeda, VP of Hawaii Commercial Banking at Bank of Hawaii, says Nawano has taken a successful restaurant and made it even better.

“It’s easy to be complacent and content with success, but she wasn’t,” says Uyeda. “She took a risk by expanding, took out some debt and now she’s growing.”

Since taking over the business, Nawano has increased sales by more than 600 percent, increased the number of employees from 40 to 150, moved the original restaurant from Ena Road to Saratoga Road, opened two more locations and established a store.

Nawano calls herself a “hands-on” owner and tries to visit each restaurant once a day. She traces her love for the food and concept of Eggs ’n Things to her early childhood in Detroit.

Born in Fujisawa City, in Kanigawa Prefecture, Nawano spent her elementary school years in the Motor City, where her father worked in the automotive industry.

“The first time I came to Eggs ’n Things, I was reminded of the American-type breakfasts my family would have in Detroit on Sunday mornings,” she recalls. “Pancakes, to me, bring thoughts of happy times, family and friends. I like to share with others what I have a passion for. If I experience something really good, I want to share it. That’s the biggest drive for me.”

*Has received an SBA loan

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