Unlikely mixture works out

FIRST PHOTO: Julia Camello makes one of Sam Sato’s biggest sellers, a lima bean manju Thursday afternoon. In the background is Yukiko Yasuda. According to Sam Sato’s daughter, Lynne Toma, Sam was the eldest of five siblings whose father died when he was young. Mother and son opened and ran the business, eventually enlisting help through an arranged marriage between Sam and Gladys Sato, who had already learned the baking trade. “He was a character, and my mom was the hard worker” Lynne Toma said of her parents Thursday while taking a brief break from tending the busy restaurant’s books. “He was a businessman, and my mom was a workhorse. Their marriage was arranged. Mom was working at a bakery in Lahaina, and she turned out to be the perfect one. Sometimes they (arranged marriages) did work out.”

The store eventually became a restaurant, and it was relocated to Puunene in 1963, Happy Valley in 1981 and to its current location in the Wailuku Millyard in 1993. Running the family operation during its lunch rush Thursday were Lynne’s husband, Charles Toma, and their son Kirk.


The fast hands of Flor Ganin pat together a lima bean manju. The lima bean manju recipe was concocted by Mite Sato, Sam Sato’s mother and business partner when the first Sam Sato Store opened in Spreckelsville in 1933.

* This article includes a correction from the original published on Saturday, November 9, 2013. Sam Sato, who opened the longtime Maui business with his mother, Mite Sato, was the eldest of five siblings. He had four sisters, two of whom are still living. The caption on Page A1 on Saturday incorrectly listed the number of Sam Sato’s siblings. The Maui News apologizes for the error.