10 Iconic Hawaii Workplaces We Wish Were Still Here


There’s no better way to ring in the New Year than to reflect on the good old days – and for that matter Hawaii of yesteryear. Yes, we’re reminiscing about the local Woolworth that served the hands-down best fried chicken on the island and Waipahu’s very own Arakawa’s market – home to everything from sporting goods to local food items. For many, these iconic Hawaii businesses were where they earned their first paycheck. Where was your first job? Is the business still around today?

If this hasn’t already struck a nostalgic chord in your heart, here are ten other memorable Hawaii workplaces we wish were still here.

1. Kilgos


Before big-box hardware stores made their way to the islands, Kilgos was the state’s largest supplier of everything from gardening and fishing supplies to industrial and building materials. The Sand Island landmark was founded in 1946 and served the local community for nearly six decades, before finally closing its doors in 2007. (Photo VIA).

2. Waikiki 1, 2, and 3 Theaters


The Waikiki Theater was perhaps one of the most famous fixtures in the Waikiki landscape. Adorned with artificial palms tress and equipped with an actual theater organ, the picturesque building was one of the largest theatres of its time – holding up to 1200 movie goers. Consolidated Amusement held the theater’s final curtain call in 2002 – shifting all 30 of its employees to its more popular theater in Ward. (Photo VIA).

3. Star Market


Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, you may have remembered hearing “It’s a five-star experience,” on TV and the radio. Do you remember who the catchy jingle belonged to? Opened in the late 1920s by the Fujieki family, Star Market was a staple for generations of Hawaii families. The kama’aina grocery chain sold all seven of its locations on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai to rival company, Times Supermarkets in 2009. (Photo VIA).

4. Liberty House

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There’s a good chance you shopped at this department store as it was not only Hawaii’s largest retail chain, but it’s oldest. Founded in 1849, Liberty House lived through two world wars and survived Hawaii’s 1990 economic depression. In 2001, the popular shopping destination was bought out by Federated Department Stores, also known as Macy’s. (Photo VIA).
5. Dole Cannery


Long hours, little pay, and soaked in pineapple juice. That was the life for many cannery workers. Dole Cannery begun operations in 1907 and in many ways working at the cannery became like a rite of passage; a coming of age for many residents. The cannery closed its doors in 1992 and was converted into a movie-theater complex, office space, and retail center. Most locals will remember seeing the HUGE 40 foot pineapple water tower (dismantled in 1993) as they drove down the H-1 Freeway or Nimitz Highway. (Photo VIA).

6. Kam Bowl


Let’s be honest, it wasn’t just the bowling you used to come here for. It was the legendary Oxtail Soup that the Kapiolani Coffee Shop served in the alley. For nearly 50 years, the bowling alley and restaurant was home to a fair amount of regulars who frequented the hang-out spot up until its closing in 2007. Fans can rejoice knowing that they can still get the famous Oxtail Soup at the Kapiolani Coffee Shop in Waimalu Shopping Center or the newly opened Kam Bowl Restaurant in the location of the old Kenny’s Restaurant in the Kamehameha Shopping Center. (Photo VIA).

7. Castle Park

Whether Castle Park was your first employer, first date spot, or both – the Salt Lake amusement park promised the local community hours of fun. Unfortunately, the park was only open for eight years, closing after a fatal water incident lead to its eventual demise. (Photo VIA).

8. Yum Yum Tree


Ono pies. Steak and eggs. Need we say more? Opened in 1982, Yum Yum Tree had four locations throughout Oahu (all of which are now closed) and was the go-to spot when you needed some good old comfort food. The food chain’s Ward location was its first to set up shop and last to close its doors in 2005. (Photo VIA).

9. JC Penney

J.C. Penny store advertiser library photo 3/31/1977

At one time, the Texas-based retailer had up to five locations in Hawaii and provided jobs for over 450 local residents. JC Penney entered the Hawaii market in the 60s with its Ala Moana location, but pulled out completely in early 2000 due to an inability to maintain profits in the highly competitive retail industry. (Photo VIA).

10. Fisherman’s Wharf


The famous ship-shaped building fronted Kewalo Basin for nearly six decades. The eatery was so popular that there was often a line of customers out the door. The clam chowder and cioppino were among some of their best sellers. Many kid patrons of the establishment will also remember the large treasure chest the restaurant had fronting the entrance way, which they could plunder a toy from. (Photo VIA).

These are just a handful of the many local workplaces that were once vital contributors to Hawaii’s economy. Here are a few more notable establishments that were close to making our list, which we also wish were still around: Gems, KC Drive Inn, Byron’s, and Waialae Drive-In.