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Loyal customers bid farewell to Flamingo


By

POSTED: Monday, October 27, 2008

The Flamingo opened its door for the last time yesterday.

Bartenders were adorned in leis, and customers hugged them in a final goodbye to a Honolulu icon: Flamingo Kapiolani.

Coco Abellira, 45, a part-time waitress who worked for the Flamingo restaurants for about 10 years, starting with two years at the Windward Flamingo, said her parents had their first date at the Kapiolani Flamingo, which opened in 1959.

“;I'm really sad,”; she said.

She said her customers are like her extended family because they have dinner with her every week.

“;I'm really going to miss this place,”; she said.

While Abellira already has a full-time job, she expects to have “;waitressing withdrawals.”;

Restaurant management said they tried to sell the restaurant, but the deal failed when a potential buyer could not reach a lease agreement with the landowner.

It is the last restaurant solely owned by Flamingo Enterprises, established in 1950 by Steven Nagamine. Flamingo Pearl City, co-owned by the family and some employees, will remain open.

Jennifer Huppert, 40, of Red Hill, who was eating fried chicken at the bar and watching the World Series, recalled eating at the Kapiolani restaurant with her grandparents after University of Hawaii basketball games about 36 years ago.

As a kid, she would see the restaurant crowded with people, especially on Wednesday night karaoke. She loved her beef cutlet.

“;It was a time when you would just go out, and it was a big deal to go out with your family,”; she said. “;It was always special.”;

For the last four days, Carolyn Kato came to Flamingo with her 98-year-old mother because they would miss it so much. Yesterday she and her mother had the opakapaka.

“;The food is excellent, the personnel is personable,”; she said. “;The ambience is cozy.”;

Coming every week for the last six years, Kato said she did not know where she would go.

“;That's a problem,”; she said. “;There's no more mom-and-pops (restaurants) anymore.”;

Assistant Manager Lillian Keone, 77, also a bartender, said she planned to return again today to help clean up the restaurant.

“;It was my livelihood, it was my social life. All my friends came,”; she said. “;Today is the last hurrah.”;

She served three generations of families during her time at the restaurant. “;I was going into my fourth generation already,”; she said.

Adele Furukawa recalled eating at Flamingo as a child and has been visiting with her two children and husband almost twice a month.

Her son 7-year-old son, Brett Furukawa, said he was sad that the restaurant was closing.

“;Their food is good!”; he said. “;I like the chicken cutlet and the saimin.”;

Flamingo Vice President Jean Shimabukuro said she has seen so many old friends and former employees in the past few days.

  “;We're going to really miss the employees and the customers,”; she said. “;It's unbelievable. We're just overwhelmed.”;

Flamingo filled patrons with memories

By Rob Shikina

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The Flamingo opened its door for the last time yesterday.

Bartenders were adorned in leis, and customers hugged them in a final goodbye to a Honolulu icon: Flamingo Kapiolani.

Coco Abellira, 45, a part-time waitress who worked for the Flamingo restaurants for about 10 years, starting with two years at the Windward Flamingo, said her parents had their first date at the Kapiolani Flamingo, which opened in 1959.

“;I'm really sad,”; she said.

She said her customers are like her extended family because they have dinner with her every week.

“;I'm really going to miss this place,”; she said.

While Abellira already has a full-time job, she expects to have “;waitressing withdrawals.”;

Restaurant management said they tried to sell the restaurant, but the deal failed when a potential buyer could not reach a lease agreement with the landowner.

It is the last restaurant solely owned by Flamingo Enterprises, established in 1950 by Steven Nagamine. Flamingo Pearl City, co-owned by the family and some employees, will remain open.

Jennifer Huppert, 40, of Red Hill, who was eating fried chicken at the bar and watching the World Series, recalled eating at the Kapiolani restaurant with her grandparents after University of Hawaii basketball games about 36 years ago.

As a kid, she would see the restaurant crowded with people, especially on Wednesday night karaoke. She loved her beef cutlet.

“;It was a time when you would just go out, and it was a big deal to go out with your family,”; she said. “;It was always special.”;

For the last four days, Carolyn Kato came to Flamingo with her 98-year-old mother because they would miss it so much. Yesterday she and her mother had the opakapaka.

“;The food is excellent, the personnel is personable,”; she said. “;The ambience is cozy.”;

Coming every week for the last six years, Kato said she did not know where she would go.

“;That's a problem,”; she said. “;There's no more mom-and-pops (restaurants) anymore.”;

Assistant Manager Lillian Keone, 77, also a bartender, said she planned to return again today to help clean up the restaurant.

“;It was my livelihood, it was my social life. All my friends came,”; she said. “;Today is the last hurrah.”;

She served three generations of families during her time at the restaurant. “;I was going into my fourth generation already,”; she said.

Adele Furukawa recalled eating at Flamingo as a child and has been visiting with her two children and husband almost twice a month.

Her son 7-year-old son, Brett Furukawa, said he was sad that the restaurant was closing.

“;Their food is good!”; he said. “;I like the chicken cutlet and the saimin.”;

Flamingo Vice President Jean Shimabukuro said she has seen so many old friends and former employees in the past few days.

  “;We're going to really miss the employees and the customers,”; she said. “;It's unbelievable. We're just overwhelmed.”;