In 1950, Roy and Koo Takakuwa opened a tiny retail outlet at 1703 Liliha Street selling Roy's loaves of bread. The popularity of his baked goods outgrew the little store, and in 1961, the Takakuwa's moved to Kuakini Street, but kept the Liliha name.
Over the years, Liliha Bakery became an integral part of the community. Kids would stop on their way home from school and dig out coins for a glazed doughnut. Old friends would meet for a cup of coffee at the counter. Aunties would pick up a dobash cake for the family potluck. Some patrons have been coming to the bakery for decades, and staff members have watched families grow and change over the years. The Takakuwas provided its employees with a family work environment. Some staff members have served 20, 30 and 40 years and have been instrumental in helping the business find its special place as a landmark bakery.
Thirty-five years after founding the bakery, Roy died in 1985. His son, William, took over the business, and Koo oversaw the company's finances till she retired in the early 1990s.
The Coco Puff Comeback
Contrary to popular belief, the coco puff was not always a part of Liliha Bakery's history. In fact, the bakery's chantilly cake, a chocolate cake with a rich buttercream frosting, had been the bakery's number-one seller for a long time. Around 1970, the coco puff made its debut but it was a "fantastic flop," said William Takakuwa. But around 1990, chief baker Kame Ikemura, now retired, reformulated the recipe with a dab of chantilly frosting, and the coco puff was a hit.
Back to the Future
In early 2008, the Takakuwa family entrusted its legacy to Peter Kim, a Honolulu entrepreneur who started his own family business, Yummy Korean BBQ, more than 20 years earlier. Peter is honored to carry on the Liliha Bakery tradition and is committed to preserving the bakery's quality and character. Plans are in the works to provide more Islanders with the taste and spirit of Liliha Bakery. Peter hopes to open additional shops in Honolulu and the Neighbor Islands.
Visit Liliha Bakery and become a part of the history that's still in the making.