Featured Local Businesses: Matsumoto Shave Ice & Minato’s Hawaii

Matsumoto Shave Ice

As an iconic Oahu institution,  Matsumoto Shave Ice needs no introduction.   Originally opened in 1951 by Mamoru Matsumoto, the store serves up Hawaiian style “shave” ice with a variety of home made flavors and toppings to choose from. Prior to the pandemic, the line of locals and tourists wanting a cool treat always extended out the door.

Matsumoto Shave Ice

After settling down in Hawaii from Japan, Mamoru Matsumoto got a job at a local grocery store. He worked hard, and was able to eventually own his very own store . In these early days, sales weren’t great as they only sold groceries and household items in a sleepy North Shore town. One day, a customer suggested that they try selling Japanese style shave ice, and the rest is history. 

Mamoru Matsumoto

As the 1960s brought more surfers and tourists to the North Shore, business picked up. The current owner, Stanley Matsumoto is Mamoru’s son. His wife, Noriko was a Japanese tourist who met Stanley in Hawaii. After a 2 year long distance relationship, they tied the knot and have 3 kids together. 

Stanley Matsumoto

During 9/11 and the Sars crisis, business was impacted but the decline was no where near what they are currently experiencing with Covid-19.  During April and May they were completely closed down. After opening up in June, sales dropped and adjustments were made to staffing levels. 

matsumoto shave ice

When a local news outlet reported on their struggles, customers started calling in the very next day.  Customers expressed their concern saying, “You guys OK?” “We don’t want you to close”. Online orders for t shirts and merchandise exploded.  During the hardest times, they had considered closing. However, encouraged by the support from their loyal customers, they were able to shift their mindset to come up with new ways to stay in business. 

matsumoto shave ice

Currently, their famous t shirts are 20% off including online orders.  Branded hand sanitizers and face masks have also been popular. Every day after closing, they spray down and sanitize the whole store to provide a safe environment for their customers. They are looking forward to the day when they can welcome everyone back with aloha. 

Minato’s Hawaii

Another iconic Hawaii brand, Minato’s Hawaii sells dressings, marinades, and seasonings that feature Hawaiian flavors.  Their famous pineapple dressing and dip, garlic shrimp marinade and poke seasoning are a must have souvenir for travelers.

Minato's Hawaii

The owner, Yoichi ‘Mac’ Takeda is a first generation Japanese immigrant.  In high school, he got a job at Japan’s first Mcdonald’s restaurant in Ginza, Japan. Before starting college, he had an opportunity to work at one of Hawaii’s first Mcdonald’s for a 6 week period. The owner liked him so much that he encouraged Mac to stay. Mac got a student visa, went to school during the day and worked at the restaurant at night. 

Yoichi Mac Takeda

He wore his Mcdonald’s issued aloha shirt to school and his friends started calling him ‘Mac’. After college in Japan, Mac headed out to to San Jose and worked at a Japanese restaurant. At the young age of 26, an opportunity presented itself and he became the owner of his first restaurant Minato.  Mac brought in new ideas such as dressing his young wait staff in casual Japanese “happi” uniforms to nurture a fun, casual environment in his restaurant.  During this time, many of his customers started inquiring about the tangy, flavorful dressing they used on their salads. 

Minato *Taken in front of the store with US Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta at the time.

Around 2000, Mac moved to Hawaii to help his younger brother open a Minato restaurant in Hawaii.  Customers in Hawaii again started asking about where they could buy his dressing. 

Owner Mac Takeda

To meet the demand, Mac started bottling the dressing for retail sale. Eventually, the demand got too high so he spun off the dressing and sauce company known as Minato’s Hawaii. In recent years,  Minato’s Hawaiian Style Shrimp Marinade has also become very popular, driving 70% of sales.  Support from local suppliers like Dole for his pineapples, Marukai Supermarket and ABC stores propelled Minato’s to success. 

Due to Covid-19, their sales have dropped by 60-70% on Oahu. Online sales are helping  however, as the folks that can’t get their dressing can purchase directly from Amazon. He’s currently developing products geared for the local market, and is looking forward to announcing those in the near future.  

Supporting Oahu’s Small Businesses

Here at Oahu’s Best Coupons, we are very invested in the community of small, locally owned businesses on the island. Due to Covid-19, many of these businesses are struggling. With the unprecedented drop in Hawaii tourism, many of your favorite businesses may struggle to keep their doors open. We hope that our readers will visit and support them so we can all rebuild the Hawaii that we love.