So you must know that Zippy’s Hawaii Kai will shut down its dining room with last meals served on Feb. 5. The take-out counter will continue, possibly through the end of this year.

But it’ll be a sad day when the Zippy’s in my East Oahu community closes its doors.

The location, formerly Castagnola’s, is the chain’s only restaurant boasting a spectacular marina view. Daytime, boats and ducks share the watery view, and nights without moons enable the businesses across the way provide twinkling lights.

It’s not magical, but it’s been a precious location for family meals, take-out, and breakfasts with friends and allies. But location isn’t a factor in the closure. There are several issues at stake.The senior discount cards/program, which provided 10 per cent discounts for everything, from table meals to carry-out, party platters and birthday cakes, though not for special orders like Thanksgiving turkeys. It was a popular promotion, but perhaps too popular, eating into the bottom line: profits.

Zippy’s crispy fried chicken

The issues at Hawaii Kai are understandable. The restaurant can’t find workers/servers and two but seldom three servers usually have to seat folks, get and place orders, serve the meals, sometimes do table bussing work, too. And deliver the check, too. Sometimes only two diners are waiting to be seated; 20 minutes later, there may be 10 or 12, and it’s not surprising that a party or two or four walk out because no one pays attention to the back-up.

The exterior is deteriorating, losing its glory day looks; the dining room was tuned up with plexiglas, a sign of the pandemic. But inside story is plain and simple: business is way down, food prices have risen, and marina views no longer are cherished.

What I’ll miss: the fried chicken, with its crispy skin;  the Zip-Min or the wun ton min, with generous extras like the eggs, and char siu, and the Napoleon Bakery’s  Napples. I assume the bakery, next to and part of the dine-out windows, will linger, and limp along without the declining walk-ins at the dining room.

What’s also been great: You can order your coffee and eggs-and-meat combos or pancakes and waffles, made fresh, and patter and chatter will include coffee re-fills. Elsewhere, the eateries still open for three meals a day, don’t appreciate your over-stays because they need the turnaround business.

The glory days at Zippy’s Hawaii, at the Koko Marina Shopping Center

I still patronize the restaurant, particularly after an early movie visit at the Koko Marina film complex. I fear that the theaters could shut down, too, with fewer and fewer turning out to watch a movie on a big screen. A blockbuster helps fills the corridors on opening night, but otherwise, you don’t see folks bustling to their seats. Streaming at home could be a culprit, ‘cuz there’ve been times when my wife and I are the lone souls watching a new movie. But that’s another story for another time.

Zippy’s management has not provided vital support for more hands on deck, or tending to reports of the air-conditioning going down and other ills of running a restaurant. Zippy’s Hawaii Kai ran out of printed menus in the last weeks of operations, and refills were not provided since the closure was near.

The restaurant had a special-area bar, which shut down years ago, and when business was brisk, it provided overflow space for diners. During the pandemic, that site was supposed to be an employee lounge, but only once did I see a worker actually in that dark and unfriendly room. At one time, Rotarians booked it for monthly luncheon meetings, but no more.

Wait staff has mentioned the restaurant wanted to pare down its lease rent with the shopping center; no one has confirmed or denied.

Since there’s no knowledge if Zippy’s still has to pay for the vacant dining room, in the months ahead, or even if there might be a turnabout and change of plans and a future reopening decision. Perhaps the community needs to rally and sound off, but also put its money where the mouth is … and dine in, like the old days.

What do you think?

Meanwhile, down the street on Kalanianaole Highway, Roy’s Restaurant – which recently marked its 35th anniversary and survived the devastating decline of business during the pandemic – has sorta become my neighborhood restaurant. Yes, it’s many steps above Zippy’s, and costlier to dine there. No,  there’s no breakfast service but I’ll drive to Zippy’s Kahala. But I don’t want Roy Yamaguchi to close his flagship restaurant. …

Oldies and still goodies

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will concertize at 8 p.m. March 18 at the Tom Moffatt Waikiki Shell. But Valli will be the lone voice in the Broadway musical that depicted the original “Jersey Boys.”

Frankie Valii

The popular foursome in the hit Broadway musical explored the life and times of Valli and his buddies. The act, of course, concocted such hit songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “Dawn,” “Rag Doll,” and “Bye Bye Baby.”

The original Seasons, led by Valli, were Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and Nick Massi. Over the years, other singers-musicians provided the music and vocal harmonies to support Valli’s trademark high notes …

The Doobie Brothers are also booked for a show at 7:30 p.m. May 5  at the Waikiki Shell.

This rock-and-soul group has produced such best-sellers as “Listen to the Music,” “Black Water,” “Takin’ It to the Street,” “What a Fool Believes,”and  “Long Train Running.”

The Doobies include Michael McDonald, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons and John Hartman . …

And that’s Show Biz. …


  1. Aloha Wayne. Mahalo nui for doing this wonderful article. I hope it’s not bothering your retirement too much. We do a radio show in Seattle called the Hawai’i Radio Connection. We’d love to talk story with you for about 3-5 minutes about this great article. Maybe get some Kama’aina here in the area to check it out. If you have the time please drop me an email or give me a call. My email is or call my cell 206-406-7813. Mahalo nui!

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