Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Old Acquaintances … Ne’er Forgot

It was a fortuitous decision the wife and I made last night, deciding to go out for dinner to Gyotaku Restaurant in McCully for some Japanese food.

Perhaps, I thought, my friend Thomas Jones , the restaurant owner, will be there and we can talk a little bit about how business is doing, what he’s involved in now, and how much I make him jealous that I’ve retired.
He was there, all right. I picked a good night.
Better yet, the first thing he did after we shook hands was to point me toward one of the tables and ask me if I knew who was sitting there. I looked. And y’know, the guy sitting there looked familiar, but I couldn’t place the face right away.
“Gene Kaneshiro!” he said.
“Oh my God, Gene Kaneshiro!” I replied, sounding like a parrot.
Craig and Gene
Tom and I hustled over to Gene’s table for a reunion. See, many, many years ago, I did the advertising and public relations for Gene when his family owned the Columbia Inn, one of Hawaii’s most famous family restaurants.

Eventually, the Columbia Inn was bought by Kyotaru Restaurants of Japan in the ‘80s. Thomas Jones was brought in from Japan to be manager of the new Waikiki Kyotaru Restaurant. The downtown and Kaimuki Columbia Inns retained their name; eventually the Waimalu restaurant changed to Kyotaru.
I have fond memories of Gene’s and my association; we spent many hours plotting advertising strategy and I even moved my office above the downtown Columbia Inn. Tom and I also became good friends over the years, especially when I became an independent consultant and called on him to join my business coalition.
Gene retired from being a restaurateur and ran the school lunch program for the State Dept. of Education. Several years ago, Kyotaru shut down in Hawaii and the Kyotaru Restaurants became Gyotaku, with Tom in charge.
Last night was the first time in perhaps a decade that I’ve run into Gene, and what a coincidence that Tom happened to be at the restaurant when the two of us independently strolled in for dinner … at nearly the same time.
It was a good day, yesterday.

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