Like Like Drive-Inn: Tuesdays with the Gang

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Korean War veterans gather every Tuesday morning at the Like Like Drive Inn Restaurant in Honolulu where they talk story over breakfast. All Nikkei veterans are welcome to attend the friendly gatherings. (SUSAN SHOHO UYEMURA)

Francis Yasutake and Michael Ho, veterans of the Korean War, began meeting once a week for breakfast in 1989 at the Like Like (pronounced “Licky-Licky”) Drive-In Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Today, there are anywhere from 20 to 30 Korean veterans who meet there for breakfast regularly.  It has become so crowded that the diner gives them their own section with two dedicated waitresses.

Like Like Drive Inn on Keeaumoku St. near Ala Moana Shopping Center is a popular local hangout.

Over the years, it has become more than just a breakfast gathering. Many of these men rely on each other for support.  They check on each other, provide information on the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Purple Hearts Association and other community and veterans information.  They share jokes, books, and service photos. More recently, they have adopted Japanese American Living Legacy, CEO, Susan Uyemura as one of their own.

Uyemura shared, “I am privileged to call these veterans my friends.  Every Tuesday around 11 AM PST, my cell phone will ring with one of them calling from the diner – they pass the phone around and sometimes I’m not even sure whom I’m chatting with, but we joke and it gets so loud that sometimes I cannot hear them.  Once a year, I fly to Hawaii and I make sure that the ‘Like Like Gang’ is on my schedule.  I try to make it to at least two breakfasts. Surprisingly, there are always some new additions to the group. This last trip, the group reached 37 breakfast club members. Members come from all over, some come from as far as Kaneohe and Mililani.” Uyemura continued, “The Like Like gang has attended the Nisei VFW reunion and a small group attend Nisei Week to participate in the parade every year. They are my extended family.”

From left, Russell Shoho, Tom Tanaka and Richard Sasaki (all Korean War veterans) join the informal breakfast club. (SUSAN SHOHO UYEMURA)

Uyemura is not alone in being accepted into this veteran fraternity; Gwen Muranaka, English editor for the Rafu Shimpo, was also visiting the islands recently with her father when they stopped by Like Like for morning breakfast.

“We just happened to be eating at Like Like, and it was such a wonderful surprise to see the veterans there,” said Muranaka.

If you happen to be in Honolulu on a Tuesday morning and you’re interested in learning more about the Korean War, please stop by the Like Like Drive-In and look for the “closed” section.  They welcome all veterans and non-veterans who are interested in learning about the “Forgotten War.” Eat, talk story and enjoy the company.  Listen to history by those who lived it.

Japanese American Living Legacy is a nonprofit (501.c.3) organization based out of Cal State Fullerton. All of the board of directors, staff and advisors are volunteers. For more information, visit www.jalivinglegacy.org or call (657) 278-4483.

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