JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
An overflow crowd stands in line at Liliha Bakery. It had been run by the Takakuwa family since it opened in 1950, but was sold on Tuesday.
Bake sale: Famed Liliha eatery has new owner
Buyer plans growth for landmark eatery
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The Liliha Bakery has a new owner, who plans to open at least two more outlets of the iconic bakery in Honolulu, followed by more on the neighbor islands over the next couple of years.
The popular bakery at 515 N. Kuakini St. -- famed for its coco puffs -- had been run by the Takakuwa family since it opened in 1950. Terms of Tuesday's sale were not disclosed.
The buyer is Honolulu entrepreneur Peter Kim, who in 1986 founded the family-owned Yummy Restaurant Group, which operates Yummy Korean B-B-Q and other food-court eateries.
Kim said he plans to maintain existing operations at the Kuakini bakery and coffee shop, retaining the 70 employees.
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STAR-BULLETIN / 2006
Coco puffs are a customer favorite at Liliha Bakery. The landmark business was recently sold.
Liliha Bakery has been sold to prominent Honolulu entrepreneur Peter Kim, owner of the Yummy Restaurant Group.
The landmark bakery at 515 N. Kuakini St., which had been run by the Takakuwa family since it opened in 1950, was sold on Tuesday. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Kim -- who founded the family-owned Yummy Restaurant Group, which operates Yummy Korean B-B-Q and other food-court eateries, in 1986 -- plans to maintain existing operations at the bakery and coffee shop and keep the current work force intact. Liliha Bakery has 70 employees, many of whom have been with the company for decades and have been integral to its success, Kim said.
"As far as the service and quality of the food, everything else will remain the same," he said. "If anything, we want to continue the tradition."
Kim said he is planning to expand on the popularity of the bakery famed for its $1.05 coco puffs. It sells 3,600 coco puffs a day at the Liliha location, which attracts an overflow crowd six days a week.
Kim's ambitious growth plans include opening at least two more Liliha Bakery shops in Honolulu in the next year to 18 months, followed by others on the neighbor islands within a couple of years.
"We're very honored that they decided to have faith in us to carry out their good name," he said. "I'm very humbled by it. I'll promise to give my 100 percent, and everything else will take care of itself."
Former Liliha Bakery President Fred Takakuwa, who at 13 years old started in the business founded by his parents, Roy and Koo Takakuwa, said it was time to find a buyer to take over operations, since he and his five siblings are reaching retirement.
"We're all getting up in our years ... and there isn't, unfortunately, another generation we're able to bring along," said Takakuwa, 61. "That's what it came down to, no family to carry it on further."
The consolation for letting go of a family legacy built through years of countless grueling hours is that Kim is committed to maintaining its quality and, more important, its relationships within the community, Takakuwa said.
Kim opened the first Yummy Korean B-B-Q in 1986 at the Koko Marina Center. He has expanded the company to include nine different restaurant concepts, including two national franchises.
"We felt comfortable with his very strong restaurant experience," Takakuwa said. "He has the resources, he has a larger company and, more importantly, management expertise to not just keep the quality of Liliha Bakery, but to really improve it."
Kim, whose expertise is in operating multiple restaurants at a single location, brings a higher level of management skills necessary to survive in an increasingly competitive business environment, Takakuwa added.
"It's such a neat, precious jewel," said state Rep. Corinne Ching (R, Nuuanu-Alewa Heights), who is leading a movement to introduce tourists to the historic Liliha area, including the landmark bakery. "All we can hope for is that the new owners retain the spirit, the character and what everyone loves so much about that particular business."
Yummy Restaurant Group:
» Honolulu entrepreneur Peter Kim opened the first Yummy Korean B-B-Q in 1986 at the Koko Marina Center.
» The company has grown to include nine different restaurant concepts, including two national franchises with about 200 employees.
» The company operates Mama's Spaghetti House; Lahaina Chicken, Steak & Fish Co.; and Cheeseburger Factory at Ala Moana Center.
» It also operates food courts at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and at the Navy Exchange Mall at Pearl Harbor.