Cat Chat 19: Rainbow’s turns 50

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Editor’s note: Catherine Toth is back on Nonstop. Although she’ll be blogging primarily on her own site, thecatdish.com, Nonstop will run some of her posts and also her weekly Cat Chat video segment, which resumes today with her interview with Jim Gusukuma, co-owner of Rainbow Drive-In.

In 1961 Seiju and Ayako Ifuku took a risk and opened Rainbow Drive-In on the corner of Kapahulu and Kanaina avenues just outside Waikiki.

They served 50-cent chili and rice plates and $1 barbecue steak plate lunches, along with 25-cent hamburgers and 14-cent french fries.

It was an instant hit with residents, many of whom hit the drive-in after spending the day at the beach. (There’s really nothing like eating a barbecue pork or chicken cutlet plate lunch after a few hours in the surf.)

And now, 50 years later, the iconic eatery in Kapahulu is known the world over. It’s been featured on national TV — including a recent episode of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” — and in magazines around the world. No trip to Oahu is complete without stopping at Rainbow’s for one of its chili plates, fried rice or slush floats.

We stopped by — and ate, of course — to talk to co-owner Jim Gusukuma about the drive-in’s history and plans to celebrate its golden anniversary. (And it involves a menu with prices from 1961.)

Here’s what he had to say:

Rainbow Drive-In’s 50th Anniversary Menu

June 18, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.: Fried rice, $1
July 16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Hot dog and a drink, 25 cents
Aug. 14, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.: Hamburger, 25 cents
Sept. 17, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.: Saimin, 25 cents
Oct. 16, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.: Chili plate, $1

Next up: Surf movie night at 6 p.m. Saturday at Hawaiian South Shore, 320 Ward Ave. Rainbow Drive-In will be serving poke bowls ($6), saimin ($3), chili bowls ($3), barbecue beef or chicken sticks ($2 each) and barbecue beef or chicken stick bowls ($6).

16 comments
Cat
Cat

Don't forget: the $1 fried rice happens THIS SATURDAY! 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. ONLY. Limit five per customer and no phone orders. Gotta be there to buy. See you there!

turkfontaine
turkfontaine

will EBT be accepted during 'roll back' hours or just stamps? (making some financial adjustments here).

townieUHfan
townieUHfan

So funny you added that nothing tastes like a BBQ Pork plate... For 25 years I asked how come I can't get the BBQ Pork, which was always available in a bun, on a plate. Then one day last year(?) it finally popped up on the specials menu!

Now I skeed ask if I can get one mixed with pork instead of beef... I no like push da luck.

Happy Birthday Rainbows! Been eating there since almost birth.

MyongChoi
MyongChoi

Aw man, all I ever order at Rainbow's is the chili plate...and it's only gonna be $1? Crazy!!! Oh, and welcome back Cat!

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

I scarfed that chili plate down! Jimmy is such a cool dude — wishing him much success with the anniversary!

M
M

Hello Cat! Weclome back! Just couldn't stay away. Happy 50th to Rainbows Drive In. I got to stop by and get the Boneless Chicken with gravy all ova.

CodyZamboni
CodyZamboni

Welcome back Cat ! Solid episode. Happy 50th Rainbow Drive In. Cheap fuud specials. Now I can look for all the spare change under my sofa cushions, and under my car seat, and should be able to find enough to buy a hamburger ( with yellow sauce ) and a hotdog. Maybe more !

townieUHfan
townieUHfan

@CatThere is no way I would ever stop going to 'Bows. So I'll keep the line shorter by one and let, hopefully, a newcomer take my place. I remember paying $.90 for a chili plate freshman year at UH, so I've had my deals.

Happy Birthday 'Bows!

Keep eating Cat.

Cat
Cat

@turkfontaine LOL! No, you can use your credit card. No need pay with stones and marbles.

Cat
Cat

@townieUHfan I asked the owner about this, and he said they couldn't offer it daily until he expanded the kitchen. So now it's a daily special :)

Cat
Cat

@MyongChoi I know, a dollar! You better sleep over the night before!

Cat
Cat

@johngarcia He's really stoked on doing something in October... Nonstop opportunity???

Cat
Cat

@M Yep, doing the Cat Chats again! But my blog is still at www.thecatdish.com. I'm in two places at once! Woot!

johngarcia
johngarcia moderator

@Cat Of course! There's always a Nonstop tie-in. :) Let's make it happen!