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Thursday, July 21, 2005



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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Colleen Mau of the Sagara Store in Waialua dreamily stared out at Farrington Highway yesterday as she contemplated a lifetime spent at the family-run okazuya.




Store bids aloha
to Waialua

The Sagara okazuya closes
tomorrow after 83 years
of serving the community

Kathy Yamamoto's jaw dropped when she read a handwritten note posted outside a popular okazuya store in Waialua notifying customers that it is closing tomorrow.

Closing thoughts

A handwritten note posted at Sagara Store, at 67-173 Farrington Highway in Waialua, says:

To our valuable customers,

At the end of business on Friday, July 22, we will close our doors for the last time. We thank you deeply for your loyal and faithful patronage through the 83 years we have been here. We enjoyed the many times you dropped by to "chew the fat" and just to say "Howzit."

We have been truly blessed with such wonderful customers. ... We are most grateful. Please keep well and we thank you again.

Aloha and Sayonara.

"I can't believe it," said Yamamoto. "Wait until I tell my husband. He's going to fall on his face."

After 83 years of serving customers, Sagara Store, located in the rural town of Waialua across from Waialua High and Intermediate School, will close at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Generations of families have enjoyed their shoyu hot dog, fried rice, chow fun, potato tempura, gobo and sushi and other food items.

Shock and sadness were felt among many longtime customers who stopped by the mom-and-pop store yesterday.

Sisters Colleen Mau and Claire Supebedia, who run the family-owned store, said it is time to move on, and for their parents, Harold and Kathleen Miyake, to retire.

"Everything changed. It's not like before. People are different," Mau said.

The closure of Waialua Sugar Co. in 1996 and a drop in enrollment at Waialua High and Intermediate School adversely affected the country store.

Mau said she and her family members have been thinking about closing for a long time. Still, "it's not without sadness," she said.

Their great-grandmother Kane Mukai first opened the store in the early 1900s. Their grandmother Tamayo Sagara later took over.

Supebedia and her sister started working at the store at a young age. She remembers stocking soup cans when she was 7. Both helped their grandmother before and after school while they attended Waialua High and Intermediate.

Ownership of the store was passed onto their aunt Eunice Watanabe, while their mother ran the store. In 1990, Mau and Supebedia stepped in to help their parents.




art
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Claire Supebedia of Sagara Store headed for the rice cooker yesterday as she prepared about 40 cups of rice for plate lunches.




The family spent long late-night hours preparing food. By 9 p.m. weeknights the parents prepared the chicken, roast pork and pork chops. By 1:30 a.m. Mau and Supebedia arrived at the store to cook rice, potatoes, chow fun and shoyu hot dogs. They cooked until the store opened at 5:30 a.m.

Despite the hard work, it is still sad to let go.

"I'm going to miss the people coming in," Mau said. "This is like a meeting place. They have a good time, have time to talk, joke around with each other. It's good fun."

"I am so sad," Supebedia said. And so were their customers.

Waialua resident Roland Silva, 48, recalled the generosity of Sagara, who died 25 years ago. She always gave his family extra potato tempura in a brown paper bag.

"My mom would lead us all in -- all five of us, one year apart," said Silva as he ate his chicken tofu plate lunch yesterday.

As 17-year-old Nikolas Lum waited for his order, he chatted with Mau on how they should stay open and hire someone else to run the store so they can take a break.

"It sucks," said Lum, a senior at Waialua High and Intermediate School. "Without this place, we gotta eat cafeteria food."

If students loved the place, so did their teachers.

"That's where I see my former students," said Gwen Lavarias, alumna and student activities coordinator at Waialua High and Intermediate. "When they come back home, that's where they go."

The school's head custodian and longtime customer, Walter "Loho" Young Jr., said he can smell the aroma of the food from his home every morning.

"They're like family to me," Young said. "I love them. I'm gonna miss them."



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