HRA: Third Annual Hall of Fame
Meet this year’s inductees into the Hawaii Restaurant Association’s Hall of Fame.
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Y. Hata & Co.
Frank Hata was the youngest of 10 children, but he played the most important role in his family’s company. Frank, like his father, Yoichi, was a true entrepreneur. Among many other achievements, he established Automat Hawaii, the largest vending machine company in the state. He also established Diversified Distributors Inc., a public distribution company. In the mid-1970s, he stayed ahead of the curve by establishing DataHouse Inc. to computerize Y. Hata and all its subsidiaries.
Alongside his older brother, Minoru, Frank pushed for Y. Hata to enter into joint ventures with other companies. In a joint venture with Foodland, he established Pacific Warehouse, and partnered with Kikkoman Shoyu to create Japan Foods Hawaii.
“He was always the behind-the-scenes guy and yet somehow could command a lot of respect,” says Russell Hata, Frank’s son.
Frank Hata also believed in giving back to the community, and was involved with non-profits such as the East-West Center, The Boy Scouts Council and St. Francis Hospital.
Although Frank Hata has retired, he still continues to sit in on Y. Hata’s weekly meetings as chairman emeritus. He also enjoys traveling.
“When it comes to having fun, he always knew how to enjoy life,” says Russell.
Martin and Jeanie Wyss
The restaurants that hold our fondest memories are not the ones that we dressed up to go to on a special occasion, but the ones that we visited weekly and monthly. Chances are, if you live in East Honolulu, the Swiss Inn holds one or two of your favorite memories.
What was the secret to the restaurant’s success? “Mainly we gave the people what they wanted, and families could afford to come to our place,” says Jeanie Wyss. “We made many good friends as well.” Martin and Jeanie, a husband and wife, chef and manager team, turned the Swiss Inn into a neighborhood institution for 18 years before closing the restaurant in December 2000. In that time, they won multiple awards, including a prestigious HONOLULU Magazine Hale Aina Award. Martin Wyss himself has been inducted into the Hawaii Culinary Hall of Fame by the LCC Culinary Program Advisory Board. With all of their accomplishments, Martin and Jeanie still find the impact they had on their customers their greatest reward.
“Serving the people good food at a good price with good service,” says Martin Wyss. “Happy customers are our greatest accomplishments.”
How do they do it?
“Hard work,” laughs Jeanie. “That’s all I can say. Nothing is going to be successful if you don’t work hard at it.”