A 76-Year Legacy of Serving Hawaiian Food


Longevity in the restaurant industry is no easy feat. It requires a deep understanding of customer desires, dedication to quality, and an unwavering commitment to a brand’s values.

For Highway Inn, a family-owned Hawaiian food institution that has been delighting patrons for an amazing 76 years, the formula for success has been deeply rooted in these principles.

We sat down with Monica Toguchi Ryan, the third-generation owner of Highway Inn, to learn about the remarkable journey of this iconic Hawaiian restaurant.

Highway Inn’s Origins

Ryan, whose grandparents, Seiichi and Nancy Toguchi, founded Highway Inn, recounts a story about humble beginnings and a strong passion for Hawaiian cuisine.

“Grandpa Toguchi’s culinary journey started at age 14 when he worked as a dishwasher at the old City Café. It was there that he not only honed his cooking skills but met my grandmother.”

The restaurant’s opening in September 1947 on Farrington Highway marked their introduction of Hawaiian food to the dining scene – a rarity at the time.

“Back then, Hawaiian food wasn’t something you found in restaurants,” Ryan explained. “In addition to Hawaiian favorites, Grandpa Toguchi added American diner-style comfort foods to the menu, and these cherished recipes have remained a staple ever since.”

The Secret to Multigenerational Success

Maintaining a family business for three generations is a remarkable achievement. When asked about their secret, Ryan reflects on her family’s ethos: “Our grandparents believed in putting their hearts into each of their homemade Hawaiian dishes. I think the secret is keeping that personal touch and remembering the pride my grandparents had in serving good food to their community.”

Despite their expansion to three locations, a thriving catering business, and nationwide food shipping, Highway Inn remains committed to preserving their culinary heritage. Their dedication to maintaining the integrity of their recipes and flavors is a testament to their unwavering pursuit of excellence.

A Heartfelt Commitment to the Community

Their business also invests in the community. “This year, like so many others, we were horrified by the damage caused by the Maui wildfires. We contributed to the relief efforts by donating all the sales from our Bishop Museum Café booth at the Maui Ola concert – a total of $8,600,” she said.

Highway Inn also supports initiatives related to cultural and academic education, sustainability, food security, and the wellbeing of young adults.

Looking to the Future

In October, Highway Inn began opening earlier. Now you can start your day with haupia pancakes or enjoy a loco moco anytime! They also offer pupu and drink specials from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. And if you have ʻohana on the continent who are homesick for local food, they ship food to all 50 states.

Highway Inn’s remarkable journey is a testament to their commitment to quality, tradition and community. A shining example of how a positive brand experience can lead to enduring success in the ever-changing landscape of the restaurant industry.

For more information about the Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce, email andrew@nativehawaiianchamberofcommerce.org