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Editor’s Page: HONOLULU’s Long History with Andy’s Sandwiches and Smoothies

It all began with a bowl of lentil soup and a brownie.


Published:

Christi Young
PHOTO: KAREN DB PHOTOGRAPHY

Our creative director, James Nakamura, called Andy’s Sandwiches and Smoothies one day to tell them we were hoping to come by. Great, was the response. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in HONOLULU Magazine, the person on the phone told him.

 

A long time? I was surprised. Andy’s has been an institution in Mānoa for as long as I can remember. And when our summer intern, Shinae Lee, and I spent a few days talking with people along East Mānoa Road for September’s Field Guide, every conversation eventually ended up at Andy’s.

 

The shop has been included once or twice in our roundups of cheap eats or vegetarian sandwiches over the past few years. But the issue that owners Andy and Norma Rodrigues recall most is hanging on the wall by their counter: July 1985. Over the decades the mounting has given way—just one corner of the now askew cover is visible through layers of customers’ holiday photos and snapshots of beauty queens with messages for the family scrawled across them. But Andy immediately points to it as a visual mark of the moment his healthy snack store caught on.

 

“When we started, everything was really slow,” Andy says, standing in front of the counter where his wife and daughters laugh together as they rapidly build orders. “When that article was written, we were already five, six years in business. That actually put us on the map.”

 

Andy's

Owners Andy and Norma Rodrigues stopped for a brief moment to talk, before Andy took off with the words, “I have to make bread.”
Photo: david croxford

 

Andy’s was the last stop for then-assistant editor John Heckathorn’s hunt for the “wild tofu burger.” At the then-named Andy’s Health Market, he noted that the owners’ young daughter sat near him with her stuffed rabbit, eating lentil soup. The article noted the real turkey in the avocado, cheese, tomato and turkey sandwich and the “terrific” homemade whole-grain bread as well as the brownies, which Heckathorn noted should be famous.

 

“Before the newsstand magazine got out, all the people, subscribers, were calling us up,” Andy says. “And we were going, HONOLULU Magazine?”

 

Norma ran across the street to buy the magazine at Safeway. It now hangs on the wall. It may appear a little neglected, but the display is much like the growth of this 42-year-old landmark: spontaneous, organic and always with family first, and a sense of humor.

 

“We had no idea what it was going to do and we weren’t really prepared for the onslaught of people who came in. We were just caught off hand.” How did they handle it and the crowds that have come ever since? In Norma’s words, “We just put our heads down and go for it!”

 

Every eatery in Hawai‘i helps bring personality to our neighborhoods. Every neighborhood has its favorites. That is why we ask you, our readers, to weigh in on some of our biggest awards of the year. The 2019 Hale ‘Aina Awards recognize the best restaurants in Hawai‘i, but the stories go beyond the service to the soul of some of our favorite places to eat. Chefs Sheldon Simeon and Ed Kenney’s childhoods in the Islands may have been very different; one grew up in a large family in plantation towns of the Big Island, the other was raised by a single mom in Honolulu. But both tell stories of their past and seek to change the future through their food. We also introduce you to three women who are owning breakfast on O‘ahu and sip our way through three great wine, beer and whiskey flights. So dig in!

 

Christi Young

 

Got a good story? Reach me at christiy@honolulumagazine.com

 

Read all of these stories in the September issue of HONOLULU Magazine. Available on newsstands in September, or purchase the issue at shop.honolulumagazine.com. Subscribe to the print and digital editions now.

 

 

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