Friday, January 5, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 5, 2001

Columbia Inn became diners' 'home away from home'

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

It looked like old times at the Columbia Inn last night.

There was Gene Kaneshiro greeting customers. Bea, widow of Columbia Inn co-founder Tosh Kaneshiro, was sitting among laughing customers. Pot-bellied news reporters were hoisting a few at the famed Roundtable.

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The Kaneshiros, who have not owned the Kapi
olani Boulevard restaurant since 1986, were there to say goodbye to old friends. At 8 tonight, the landmark at the "Top of the Boulevard" closes for good.

"Although we sold this place over 12 years ago, still our hearts are here," Bea Kaneshiro said.

Gene Kaneshiro grew up in the restaurant, which he called his "living room." He said he’ll keep nearly all of the pictures and drawings that cover the restaurant’s walls. Kaneshiro said he’ll also move the Roundtable from the bar to his lanai.

"For me, a lot of memories, and a lot of friends, especially the employees who I still see quite often. Those are the good times," Gene Kaneshiro said.

Hawaii Newspaper Agency dispatcher Lani Fern said she also "grew up" in the Columbia Inn’s bar. Fern has been a loyal customer for 30 years.

"This is my favorite home away from home. It’s sad. I wish they would stay open," she said.

Ron and Lita Ching of Aiea often dine at the restaurant twice a day.

"This place is irreplaceable," Ron Ching said. "The atmosphere, and the people are friendly."

Columbia Inn owner Kyotaru Co. Inc. last year sold the restaurant to Servco, an automotive, office and consumer products and insurance company. At the time of the sale, Servco said it would close the restaurant.

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