Highway Inn is an Oahu-based restaurant founded by Seiichi Toguchi, a Japanese-American of Hawaiian descent. At the beginning of World War II, Seiichi was taken from home to a detention center in California and assigned to work in the canteens. There, Japanese-American chefs from across the country taught him how to cook, which eventually inspired him to open Highway Inn to share the food he loved as a child. Seiichi passed the restaurant on to his son, Bobby Toguchi, who has since passed it on to his daughter, Monica Toguchi Ryan. Her family has proudly served authentic Hawaiian cuisine for over 70 years.
As a third-generation owner, Monica was determined not only to respect her family’s traditions and heritage, but also to share food with the younger generation, keeping them in touch with Hawaiian food culture and local people. When his grandfather opened a restaurant, he used word of mouth to attract new customers. Monica now uses Google Ads and her Google Business Profile to connect with her clients and help them transition from one location to three on Oahu. She and her family hope to preserve the beauty and tradition of Hawaiian cuisine for generations to come.
In this Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we share these stories and others like Kruti Dance Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.These are two of many small businesses owned by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders making a difference in local communities.