DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Eva Ikeda and her family's Moiliili Mochi and Candies and the Peanut Shop in Liliha has been in existence for more than 50 years in various locations, but is closing on July 23.
No more sweets
Tight economy shuts down a sweet fixture
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Moiliili Mochi and Candies and the Peanut Shop on Liliha Street will shut down on July 23 after more than 50 years in business.
The mom-and-pop operations owned by Jared and Eva Ikeda couldn't sustain Hawaii's rising real estate prices, which have significantly soared in recent years. The husband-and-wife team, in their mid-60s, weren't planning to retire, but couldn't afford the latest lease rent increase for the aged 1,000-square-foot shop and failed to find another feasible location in town.
The businesses have been a mainstay for longtime residents who come from as far as Kaneohe and Pearl City to buy a variety of mochi, peanuts, seeds, mochi crunch, dried fruits and tea cookies.
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Hawaii's rising real estate prices have driven another small mom-and-pop operation out of business.
Moiliili Mochi and Candies and the Peanut Shop, two separate businesses at 1619 Liliha St., will shut down on July 23 after more than 50 years.
Owners Jared and Eva Ikeda, in their mid-60s, weren't planning to retire this early, but couldn't afford the latest lease-rent increase for the aged 1,000-square-foot shop. The couple also exhausted all options in trying to find another feasible location in town.
Despite weathering financial hardships -- including rising gas prices and periodic economic slowdowns -- since buying both businesses in the mid-1980s, the Manoa couple decided it was time to close shop.
"We've managed to stay afloat all these years because of our loyal customer base and demand for products," Jared said. "When real estate prices start going up it takes a big chunk; the small things we can try to work out, but when you get stuck with a big decision like relocating and starting up again, it's sort of difficult. We're not getting any younger."
"Eva said her husband's health issues were another reason the couple decided to close.
The Ikedas bought the peanut shop, established by Bob and Mildred Nako on Beretania Street, in 1985. And a year later, they took over the mochi business, founded by the Motooka family on the corner of King Street and University Avenue.
In 1991, they downsized the businesses and moved them to one location in Liliha, where they sell 13 different types of mochi, four kinds of peanuts, seeds, mochi crunch, dried fruits and tea cookies.
Love for labor-intensive mochi making and peanut boiling has resulted in countless New Year's when the family wouldn't sleep for several days to ensure orders were filled.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
After 50 years in business, the Moiliili Mochi and Candies and the Peanut Shop, located at 1619 Liliha St., is closing its doors on July 23.
Over the years, the Ikedas have had to compete with larger businesses and overcome financial difficulties resulting from changes in the law, including a ban on bringing food into Aloha Stadium during University of Hawaii football games, which is big business for the peanut makers. The family eventually won a contract to sell peanuts in the stadium, one of Eva's favorite pastimes despite the long hours.
"I like to work hard," Eva said.
The evidence of years of grueling work from 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. six days a week is evident to customers.
"These guys are the greatest," said Jay, a 17-year customer and business neighbor who declined to disclose his last name. "This is the kind of places we need more of. I'm going to miss this place. I've been friends with everyone over the years."
"The comfortable, family-style atmosphere was the reason the couple's three employees have been loyal to the company for nearly two decades.
"I had the best bosses ever," said Lisa Ho, who has worked for the Ikedas for 17 years. "We always joke around, it's my second family."
"One of the Ikedas' fondest memories were of their three children, two daughters and son now in their 30s, who were raised in the businesses, where they learned how to use the old manual cash register and give change to customers. The children still help in the family business when needed.
The closure is a bittersweet end of an era for the husband-and-wife team, who will start their new jobs baby-sitting their grandchildren.
"Over the years we've had so many regular customers, it's like second nature," Jared said. "You expect them to be walking in the door and talking story with them. The sad part is all these things are disappearing. When you walk into big stores like Wal-Mart and Kmart, they don't have that interaction and that feeling. People don't realize it until the businesses are gone."