Monday, December 10, 2001

Craig's Bakery customer Jameelah Peer looked for something to buy among the bakery's racks in Kailua yesterday.

Kailua family
bake shop forced
to close its doors

Craig's Bakery, for 50 years a
local fixture, will be sorely missed
by its loyal customers

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Jameelah Peer walked into Craig's Bakery in Kailua yesterday afternoon and read a sign informing customers the bakery will close at the end of the year.

"So, you really are closing," sighed Peer, a customer of the bakery since 1964. "What a bummer."

Known for its bread pudding, chocolate eclairs and custard pies, Craig's is closing on Dec. 31 after nearly 50 years of serving the community.

The bakery has been a landmark in Kailua, said Peer. As a child, she and her family would get dessert at Craig's Bakery after they ate at Four Star Chop Suey, Inc.

But changes in the economy and lifestyles were among the factors that have led Craig Furubayashi to close the bakery.

Furubayashi said business has dropped since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We've been impacted about 30 percent after the attack," he said.

Lifestyles also have changed people's way of shopping, Furubayashi said.

"Everybody is a little bit busier," he said.

In the last few years, Craig's also has had to deal with the competition of bakeries in supermarkets such as Foodland and Safeway.

Furubayashi took over the business after his parents, Kenji and Yuriko, retired three years ago.

"I wanted to extend the legacy of the business because it's part of Kailua," he said. "It's like losing someone in the family.

"It's something that's beyond my control."

Customers were informed of the bakery's closing during Thanksgiving.

"I'll miss it," said Charlie Snyder, who's been coming to the bakery for 30 years. "I don't know where I'm going to go for my butter rolls for Thanksgiving."

Kailua resident Ed McNulty, shopping at the bakery yesterday, said he only found out yesterday that the bakery was closing, after his wife, Louann, told him.

"There's nothing else in Kailua like this," said McNulty, a 15-year customer.

"It's an institution," he added. "We always came here whenever you get the assignment to get rolls or cakes or pies. This is where (you get it)."

Kenji and Yuriko Furubayashi first opened Craig's Bakery on the corner of Maluniu Avenue and Kuulei Road in 1952, naming it Craig's Bakery after their first-born son.

Ten years later, the bakery moved into the building where Four Star Chop Suey currently is located before eventually settling at 48 Maluniu Ave., where the Furubayashis used to live.

Furubayashi followed in the footsteps of his father, who worked as an apprentice at Liberty Bakery in Kalihi during World War II. Kenji and two other partners purchased a bakery store in Wahiawa. Later, Kenji decided to open his own bakery in Kailua after the two other partners got married.

"I realized growing up ... I wanted to be like him," said Furubayashi.

"Through the last 25 years, I had a chance to work with my father. That has been the most rewarding part."

Though the economic downturn has forced Furubayashi to close, he hopes to re-open a bakery someday.

"This isn't the death of me," he said.

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