Aloha Byron’s Drive In

Feb 21, 2013

 

Well, you have less than a week to visit the last eating establishment of the iconic Wong family’s long line of restaurants.  Byron’s Drive In near the airport will be closing for good on 2/28/13.

 

 

For the last 58 years, the Wong family companies have fed generations of Hawaii residents and visitors from around the world.

 

Byron’s is the last remaining eatery owned by the companies launched by the late Andy Wong and wife Marian in 1954, when they bought Leon’s Tavern in Kailua.

 

The three entities under which the restaurants operated, Leon’s of Kailua Ltd., Pacific Food Services Inc. and Sea Breeze Ltd., spawned a dozen local-style and upscale restaurants that make kama­aina wax nostalgic, including Andy’s Drive Inn in Kailua, opened in 1957; Andrew’s, first at Ward Warehouse, then Executive Centre; Chinese Chuckwagon at the Ward Farmers Market; Chowder House and Orson’s Seafood Restaurant at Ward Warehouse; Coral Reef Chinese restaurant, Wong’s Okazu-ya, Fishmonger’s Wife and Byron II at Ala Moana Center; Eat at Joe’s in the Outrigger Malia; and Seafood Emporium in the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.

 

Customers would cross the Koolau to eat Andy’s burgers, slathered with its proprietary red or yellow sauces. When Andy’s closed in 1999, customers bereft of their favored sauces begged the Star-Bulletin to publish the recipe for replication at home. Marian Wong would not divulge the recipe, as the sauces were available at Byron’s.

 

Fun fact: Andy’s and Andrew’s were named for the founder, while Orson’s and both Byron’s restaurants were named for the couple’s sons. They also had four daughters, but given Andy Wong’s belief that a restaurant named after a woman would not be successful, none were named after them.

 

Yet another MLC place will become just a memory.  Just another blog topic to remember 10 years from now…  Maybe now they will share their recipe for the red and yellow burger sauces.

 

Think you might chance it this week to try an grab a shrimp burger from Byron’s?  Maybe an oyster burger?  And how about a slush shake to wash it down.  What memories do you have from the extensive list of the Wong family long line of restaurants?  Share your stories with us.

 

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37 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Masako
    February 21st, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    First!

  2. Masako
    February 21st, 2013 at 5:30 am #

    Good morning! I believe that Fishmongers Wife and Scoozies were also Wong family restaurants. I used to like to get lunch at Fishmongers Wife, great chowder.

  3. Masako
    February 21st, 2013 at 5:32 am #

    My favorites and Byrons was the Shrimp burger and slush float. They also made a mean coke float which they would blend the coke and ice cream….was so good!

  4. M
    February 21st, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    Guud morning MLCers!
    Byrons has guud fried chicken.

  5. eddyo
    February 21st, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Good morning,

    This feels like reading an obit, not realizing when the person was alive how he was related to others you know (It’s a small town thing!).
    I had no idea that these eating establishments were all connected. How sad, especially some of those places mentioned held very special memories for me.

  6. Masako
    February 21st, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Byrons II was the go to place for special occasions. I loved the tableside presentations there.

  7. Masako
    February 21st, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    All morning my co worker and I talked about Byron’s and Andy’s. I think I might go pick up dinner tonight at Byrons.

    We should have an impromptu Triad party before they close!

  8. losthawaiian
    February 21st, 2013 at 9:32 am #

    I miss Andy’s drive-in. It was the place to eat after a day at Kailua beach. As for the Chowder House, I worked there after HS before I went to UHH. Great clam chowder and the fried seafood plates were winnahs!

  9. Rodney
    February 21st, 2013 at 10:06 am #

    Good (hungry) morning MLCers. I passed by the Chowder House many times but never did stop in to eat. Now I wish I did…

  10. LINDA KATO
    February 21st, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Thursday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day :!: :grin:

  11. LINDA KATO
    February 21st, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Thanks for the history of these places, Rod. I didn’t know they were all connected. We’ve eaten at Chowder House, Orson’s Seafood Restaurant, Byron II and probably several others but I was too little to remember where we visited. Great food at these restaurants and nice memories. Another sad closing. Will check with hubby if he would like to swing by Byron’s for a final taste before they close.

  12. Rodney
    February 21st, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    I didn’t eat at Andy’s Drive In much. But I do remember that the kitchen looked so huge because of it’s high ceiling. And one of my fondest memories was seeing the BIG RED “A” in neon lights on each side of the tall A-framed building.

    That, and the A-framed garage roof – http://archives.starbulletin.com/1999/05/28/business/artc.jpg

  13. Shoyu burner
    February 21st, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Rod, i worked for the wong family round 1980 ( opened up seafood emporium and Andrews rest.) . I believe their yellow sauce was simply a combo of mayo n mustard . Just needed to know the ratio of each and brand of products. Never made it @ those restaurants… But still remember recipes for a lot of the entrees…

  14. Rodney
    February 21st, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    @Shoyu Burner – Yes! I remember having dinner at Seafood Emporium. You prepared my Lobster Thermidor.

  15. dihudfan
    February 21st, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    seafood pasta at Fishmongers… ono
    shrimp burger and slush at Byrons… winnahs

  16. Shoyu burner
    February 21st, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    They called the yellow sauce “goop” LOL. I guess “aioli” wasn’t popular back then.

  17. Rodney
    February 21st, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    I remember Andy’s and Bryon’s had slush shakes. It was a slush float that they blended and it came out like a creamy slush. A lot of other places had slush floats – but I never came across one that made slush shakes – except for Andy’s & Bryon’s.

  18. Rodney
    February 21st, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    Coral Reef restaurant

    http://www.tikiroom.com/img/8169x4ae9a3f.jpg

    *See below for new comment with link

  19. DIO
    February 22nd, 2013 at 3:49 am #

    NKSEE your pic, Mistah Lee.

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    You don’t have permission to access /img/8169x4ae9a73f.jpg on this server.

    Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.

  20. Masako
    February 22nd, 2013 at 6:21 am #

    Went to Byron’s last night because I happened to be in the area. Ordered a Shrimp burger and a Chowder House Clam chowder. As I sat there and ate I thought about how I haven’t eaten there for years yet, I felt sad that it wouldn’t be there anymore in case I wanted to. It was really busy, people mostly eating burgers and slush floats. They were selling cups of the “Goop” but since the shelf life was only a week, I didn’t buy any.

  21. M
    February 22nd, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    Guud morning MLCers!
    I had the Chicken Katsu….

  22. Kage
    February 22nd, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    I ate at Byron’s only a handful of times. Mostly after playing pool and drinking at Gussie L’amoure’s. I do remember liking the fried rice omelet.
    In my drunken state I would hear the lady yell to the cook, “Fly Lie Ahmlet” and would always have a good chuckle with my friends at the table after.

  23. volleymom2
    February 22nd, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    I will miss Byron’s even tho I dont go there anymore or hardly at all. But during high school that used to be one of our school’s stomping grounds to grind after the games. And there weren’t many places to hang out like today. I loved the teri anything at Byron’s. Maybe I will go to for one last teri something!!

  24. Rodney
    February 22nd, 2013 at 8:39 am #

  25. Rodney
    February 22nd, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    @Kage – I had the fried rice about a year ago. The egg on it was egg foo young and was ono!

  26. LINDA KATO
    February 22nd, 2013 at 9:29 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Aloha Friday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day :!: :grin: Drive carefully it’s raining today :!:

    All of your posts are making me hungry but after running errands in the rain today, we’ll probably stop over at Zippy’s for brunch :!: :grin:

  27. lowtone123
    February 22nd, 2013 at 11:54 am #

    Reminds me that I haven’t ate at Byron’s in years since my wife left Aliamanu Middle School where she was a teacher. A good excuse to go there one last time.

  28. ankleBYTERS
    February 22nd, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    On my way to Enterprise to pick up my rental whenever I’m in 808 land, the shuttle would always pass by Byron’s and I would always tell myself, “I’ll stop by when I return the rental…”, but I never did….now I’ll never have a chance to eat there again….ever…

  29. Mark'75
    February 22nd, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    I remember a simple jingle:
    Stop in Kailua,
    at Andy’s Drive In,
    or Nimitz Highway at the airport,
    Byron’s Drive In.

    Wow, soon BOTH will be memories. :(

  30. khs68
    February 22nd, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    A friend who grew up in the Navy Housing was a big fan of Byron’s. He moved to San Jose since and everytime he comes to visit, Byron’s is his first stop after landing. He’s been raving about the teri beef plate for years. I’m going to try it tomorrow after my tennis match.

  31. 4G
    February 22nd, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    Thanks for the history of the Wongs, @Rod! There is a lot there that I never knew.

    Byron’s Drive In – Shrimp burger. Mmmmmmm!
    Andrew’s – Linguine and Clams! Pretty good bread, too, IIRC.
    Orson’s clam chowder (I think Chowder House descended from Orson’s – after Orson’s closed, IIRC.)
    Fishmonger’s Wife – had many lunches there.

    Coral Reef – I remember it as a kid, but I don’t think we ever ate there. My impression is that it was too expensive. That pic, @Rod, stirs some vague memories. That was from pretty long ago – there is a six-digit telephone number on there. Shark’s Fin Soup is also referenced. LOL! Pretty un-PC these days, huh (to say nothing of illegal)? As un-PC as this statement is, I never got to taste shark fin’s soup – always wanted to, though! ;)

  32. 4G
    February 22nd, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

    Darn – I forgot about Byron II – French Onion Soup!

  33. hemajang
    February 22nd, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    I pass Byron’s on the way to work but hardly ever go there…except today, ordered the shrimp burger and the oyster burger…was ono. Think I’ll get some slush float next week, for old time’s sake.

  34. LINDA KATO
    February 23rd, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Saturday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day :!: :grin:

    Nice memories everyone :!: I have to mail a package to Omaha, may swing by Byron’s for a burger later. :smile:

  35. khs68
    February 23rd, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

    My tennis team went to Byron’s today. And here’s my report. The teri beef plate was very good. The meat was tender and juicy, and the teri sauce was perfect — overall, much, much better than Rainbow Drive-In. (Sorry, Rainbows). The other ladies had the oyster sandwich (excellent), the eggplant pita (delicious), fried oyster plate (sooo much food), and the hamburger with mushrooms (really juicy). I wanted to try the shrimp burger and slush float, but was too full.

    In the end, we all said, “too bad they’re closing and we’ve missed out all these years”.

  36. LINDA KATO
    February 24th, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    khs68: Thanks for sharing, sounds so ono :!: :grin:

  37. LINDA KATO
    February 24th, 2013 at 9:54 am #

    Good morning MLCers :!: Happy Sunday :!: :grin:

    Have a great day :!: :grin: