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).
Hello Cat! I got to keep those dates in mind for those cheap prices! I going try make that Surf Movie night too!
Put them in your calendar!! I know I’m going to forget, so I’m going to go every day this summer 🙂
You going everyday? Jim is going to really like you a lot!
I’d be 1,000 pounds if I went everyday! 🙂
Two people really relaxed and enjoying food. This was a great Cat Chat. I would like to grow up to be either Jim or Cat.
I think Jim has more fun — and more vacation time 🙂
Don’t forget us non-surfers too! Wow, hitting Rainbows for a plate lunch after a day at the beach was so good … that I still remember the feeling to this day!
Unfortunately, I don’t remember the 50-cent chili plates, though. I do remember I loved the chili plate and it was just the right price for us starving students who had no money. Maybe a few bucks but not sure exactly.
Too bad I’m not on that side of town too often, othewise I’d surely stop by.
I think if you figure how much you’d save on buying, say, 20 plates of fried rice for $1 each, it would be less than the money you’d spent on gas!
Chili plates would give me more gas than that.
I remember getting the chilli plates for a dollar.
Hey, you’re dating yourself! 🙂
Well now I have a plan for when I come home to visit 🙂
You gotta plan your vacation around those dates!