From L-R: KC Waffle Dog w/Chili-Jim Gusukuma (Owner), Deconstructed Sushi Bowl-Zackary Paguirigan, Boneless Chicken w/Gravy Rainbowl- Nikki Kahle, Hoku’s 1/2 BBQ Chicken Plate- Chistian Polanco

Rainbow Drive-In + Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens

October, 2014

When you’re craving local, ono grindz—like an unfailingly tasty Loco Moco plate lunch or perfectly fried chicken—there is no better choice than Rainbow Drive-In. For over 50 years, the iconic eatery has been serving up island favorites and growing its loyal following in tandem with the rapid development of Waikiki.

With a massive fan base—think along the lines of 1,800 enthusiastic Yelp reviews and 16,000 likes on Facebook—it only made sense that many asked about when Rainbow Drive-In would expand. While the company initially resisted the idea of adding additional locations, it was a building that became available next door that turned the tide.

“Preserving and representing our local food is a huge passion of mine,” says Jim Gusukuma, Senior Vice President of Operations of Rainbow Drive-In and son-in-law to the original founder, Seiju “George” Ifuku. Wanting to make sure that younger generations could experience the best of local fare, Gusukuma set out to lead a unique collaboration with some of Hawaii’s most beloved establishments. It didn’t take long for old favorites like Poke Stop, Hoku BBQ Chicken, KC Drive Inn (which officially closed in 2005), and, of course, Rainbow Drive-In to get on board.

The group collaborated on a diverse menu based on their favorite items and fun spinoffs—such as RainBowls from Rainbow Drive-In—and easily settled on a name for the new restaurant: Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens. Enthusiastic about the community’s initial response, the company is planning to resurrect retired recipes that were once popular across the islands and is already considering future plans for additional locations. A gift shop, Hawaii Nostalgia Studio, polishes off the concept with t-shirts and memorabilia from the brands that built Hawaii’s food culture.

So far, business has been off to a great start. “This is a distinctive venture and there really aren’t a lot of existing models for it,” Gusukuma says. “We’re working very closely together to make this successful and people are really liking what we’re doing here. Not to mention that we’re just having a lot of fun bringing Hawaii’s best dishes under one roof.”

Finally, the question that gets asked multiple times a day: what’s popular? “We have a pretty even spread across the menu,” Gusukuma says. “We knew that Hoku BBQ Chicken and poke would be homeruns, but the volume of Waffle Dogs that we sell has surprised all of us.”

Treat yourself to your favorite local grindz today at Hawaii’s Favorite Kitchens.
14-Nov-HB-Rainbow-01

 

3111 Castle Street
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 744-0465

 

14-Nov-HB-Rainbow-02

 

 

3308 Kanaina Avenue
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: (808) 737-0177
www.rainbowdrivein.com

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Author:

Hawaii Business magazine