Our Islands, Our Future

Curtis and Naomi Takaoka

Curtis and Naomi Takaoka

Day in and day out, the family-owned and operated Tasty Crust restaurant aims at providing meals that give Maui families a reprieve in the kitchen. “You can get a meal here that you can cook at home,” Tasty Crust President Curtis Takaoka. “We’re just giving moms a break from having to cook it themselves.” That daily goal to provide homey-flavored meals has been the mark of the Wailuku restaurant that has been in business since 1944, and Takaoka believes it’s the main reason the small business has been able to thrive for more than six decades. “If you want a fancy restaurant, we’re not it. We’re more of an every day deal, in a mom and pop setting. You can come in every day and get reasonably priced comfort food.”

The Takaoka family, led by the late Mike and Patsy Takaoka, first assumed ownership of Tasty Crust in 1957, sold it in 1982, and took it back in 1997 with Curtis and wife, Naomi, offering to assist as Curtis’ parents took a well-deserved retirement. With 27 employees on the payroll today, Tasty Crust provides a menu of local favorites including saimin, teriyaki steak and the ever-popular hot cakes. From Monday to Friday, as many as 20 gallons of hot cake batter is prepared – and up to 30 gallons on weekends. The Mill Street restaurant sits in the same spot it was built on in 1944 and still uses recipes from Patsy Takaoka and her closest friends and family.

Sustaining the business success could lead to adding more staff and/or raising prices. “It’s a constant battle having to take care of business in this economy. Eventually we’re going to have to tool the business a little bit, but I think we’re going to keep the menu the same.” Takaoka said he appreciates the support the community has given his restaurant. “We’re so thankful we’ve been able to do business on Maui. Everyone has been so supportive and we’ve got a lot of people who have been very, very loyal to us.”