Friday, December 19, 2003

Kanda Lunchwagon at Kewalo Basin will be closing on Christmas Eve after serving customers for 40 years. Darlene Kanda and her mother, Yasuko, prepared plate lunches yesterday. Darlene has helped her mom with the lunch wagon since the 1970s.

Kewalo eatery
serving up its last

Kanda Lunchwagon plans
on closing on Christmas Eve

A popular Kewalo Basin lunch wagon known for its beef curry is closing after serving customers for 40 years.

Kanda Lunchwagon, a family-run business that spent decades serving popular plate lunches such as beef curry, teri beef and pork long rice, will close Christmas Eve.

"They've been a landmark for all these years," said 60-year-old Edward Yasuda, of Queen Emma Gardens.

Many regulars were saddened to hear the lunch wagon was closing. As a young adult, Yasuda said, his father took him to get lunch at Kanda's after they went fishing at Kewalo Basin. His favorite lunch is the beef curry plate -- a popular one that usually sells out.

"It's hard to get good-tasting curry," said Yasuda.

The Kandas decided to close the lunch wagon due to health problems of the family matriarch, Yasuko Kanda. Her daughter, Darlene, also said working 14-hour days preparing the food, loading large pots into the lunch wagon and cleaning up has taken a physical toll.

"It's a hectic lifestyle," said Darlene Kanda, who starts work at 1 a.m. with her mother.

Kanda's sister, Irene Higa, who starts her workday at midnight, said she has mixed feelings about closing. Higa said she is happy that her mother will have a chance to rest, but she will miss the customers.

Makakilo resident Keyra Candelario and Pearl City resident Chelsey Penera enjoyed their Kanda plate lunches yesterday. Penera said her grandmother used to bring her to the lunch wagon when she was a little girl, and that she will try to visit it every day until they close.

Darlene Kanda said they do not want to pass on the business to the next generation because of the demanding schedule.

"We don't want them doing this type of work. They won't have a life," she said.

Darlene Kanda said her uncle started the business at Kewalo Basin in the early 1960s. Her father, Seiichi, took over the business in the 1970s after her uncle died and her aunt had a difficult time running the lunch wagon.

The lunch wagon near the entrance of Kewalo Basin Park serves customers 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Regular customers willing to wait in line up to 20 minutes raved over menu options that also include shoyu chicken, meatloaf and spare ribs.

"It's the best," said Makakilo resident Chelsey Penera, who regularly drives to Kanda's for the pork long rice plate lunch. "I told my sister I would come every day (before it closes)."

Kanda said she and her sister, Irene, have been thinking about other ways to continue feeding their customers. But for now they want a break.

"We want to take it easy," said Kanda.


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