Spencecliff brings back many fond memories
Former employees of the restaurant chain will hold a reunion
Chantal Weaver remembers running around her father's restaurants as a child - she had many to choose from, as her father was Spencer Weaver, co-founder of the Spencecliff restaurant chain. But her favorite was Queen's Surf, on the beach in Waikiki.
» When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 23
» Place: Hawaiian Hut, Ala Moana Hotel
» Tickets: $35
» RSVP: 263-2843 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
"I remember Hilo Hattie dancing on the stage and the imu with the whole pig. I remember the man climbing the coconut tree and throwing plumeria leis down to the guests."
Gordon Yoshida, Spencecliff's former vice president of operations, has a similar spot in his memory banks for the Hawaiian Hut. "My son had his first birthday party here and then he had his graduation party here."
The two have teamed up to produce a reunion for former Spencecliff employees on Aug. 23 at the Hawaiian Hut, which Yoshida now runs. They say they hope to give some closure to their old employees, as well as a sense of purpose about the future.
"So many people have come through Spencecliff," Yoshida says. About 1,500 remained when the company was sold, but "thousands passed through over the years."
Spencer Weaver and his brother Clifford started Spencecliff in 1939 with a $30,000 investment in six Swanky Franky hot dog carts. The company expanded to a family of restaurants that were signposts of a generation - the Tahitian Lanai, Senor Popo's, Kelly's, Coco's, M's Ranch House, Trader Vic's ...
The company was sold in 1986 to Nittaku Enterprises, which closed the restaurants one by one. Only the Hawaiian Hut is still in business.
"To me, every restaurant closure was like a death, because I grew up in the restaurants," Chantal Weaver says. "They were like my home."
The reunion will feature food, a no-host bar, entertainment, a slide show and memorabilia display. Weaver is hoping the event will be a springboard for her long-range effort to provide a permanent venue for Hawaiian song and dance under the Spencecliff name.
"Waikiki is being turned into any large city. They're bringing in all these Las Vegas-type shows and visitors are coming and saying, 'Where's Hawaii?'"