Iconic Archie’s Restaurant in Wailuku to close after 49 years

Margie and Tom Albete will “throw in the towel,” so to speak with Saturday being the last day of business at the 49-year-old Archie’s Restaurant. -- The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

For 49 long years, Archie’s Restaurant on Lower Main Street in Wailuku has been a fixture for its hamburger steak, breaded teriyaki and nabeyaki udon, the latter a soup made of thick flour noodles that you slurp from a bowl of steaming broth cooked in a steel pot with vegetables, chicken, tofu, half an egg, seaweed and fish cake, topped with a shrimp tempura and green onions.

Now, sad to say, the iconic local eatery with the bright green and orange accents and the friendly family owners will close its doors on Sept. 30. The founder, Archie Tanaka, died in 2002, and his wife, Hifumi Tanaka, whose recipes are still used to this day, handed the day-to-day operations to their daughter Margie Albete and son-in-law Tom Albete, who now wants to move onto other things.

“It just got to be too much,” said Margie. “I work full time at Hale Makua and Tom had to retire as a registered nurse to work here. It’s not like other companies. We’re hands-on, 24/7.”

Hifumi is now 86, and Tom and Margie’s kids have gone on to have their own lives, two in Washington, one here.

“Nobody seems to want to take over,” says Margie. “But we have one last week and we welcome everyone to come and check us out. While we are always closed on Sundays and Mondays, we will reopen on Tuesday for lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and for dinner from 5 to 8 p.m.

Then the “last run” will be from Wednesday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and from 5 to 8 p.m.

“I was in grade school when it opened,” says Margie. “My parents always made sure I was part of the business. Maybe to keep an eye on me.”

As the story goes, Hifumi worked at the old Hokama’s in Wailuku as a fountain clerk and a cook.

Her dream to own her own eatery came to fruition when Archie decided to purchase the old Shigenaga store on Lower Main Street, where the Duco Building is located next to the current Archie’s.

“In 1968, he built Archie’s and it had just six stools at the counter, three tables and four chairs,” says Margie.

It was next to the old Wing Sing, which is now Tiffany’s Bar & Grill.

“One reason Archie’s has lasted so long is that it has a family atmosphere. People like coming back and seeing the same people,” says Margie of its success.

“Usually, you end up talking story for awhile before you even order,” adds Tom. “We have one guy, he sits at the same table each and every time, year after year.”

The lime green and bright orange color scheme harkens back to the 1970s and it looks like Austin-Powers-meets-Maui when you open the door. But there are miniature figurines and samurai swords that give it an Asian twist.

“We used to just have these tea pots and cute little things but they just weren’t me, so I started bringing in the samurai swords,” says Tom.

In 2014, it was announced Archie’s was inducted into the Hawaii Restaurant Hall of Fame.

“My parents worked very hard establishing the business and keeping it in business for all of those years,” Margie said at the time.