Hawaii’s favorite local restaurant is unqeustionably Zippy’s. There are more than 25 locations today with most of them on Oahu but newer locations on Maui and on the Big Island of Hawai’i. There is also a location coming soon to the ‘9th Island’ of Las Vegas.
The first Zippy’s to open was back in October of 1966 at 1725 S. King Street in Honolulu. The restaurant was started by local brothers Francis and Charles Higa. Legend has it that one of the brothers wanted to open a carwash and the other wanted to create a restaurant specializing in their grandmother’s chili. The two compromised and used the car wash name to open a fast/casual restaurant that locals have flocked to ever since.
From the beginning, Zippy’s has been open 24 hours but there have been some notable changes through the years. Starting in the 1970s, some locations began offering both a fast food and a sit down dining experience in the same location. This is still the case at many locations today - on one side is a diner style restaurant and on the other a fast food style place. In 1983, the Higa brothers decided to open Napoleon’s Bakery on site to create a one-stop shopping model where diners could get there dinner and then get baked goods to take home.
One concern of the brothers from the beginning was that the quality of the food (especially the chili) be consistent. Francis used to take the chili to each location in his station wagon from where they made it. Today, most of Zippy’s food is prepared by Food Solutions International in Waipio and then transported to the locations on Oahu and the neighbor islands. The menu is a combination of American, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean dishes but the most famous and biggest seller is still Zippy’s Original Recipe Chili. Local schools and clubs sell Zippy’s Chile for fund raisers. Over 100 tons of Zippy’s Chili gets sold each month.
Why do local people love Zippys? The food is reasonably priced, tasty, and no hassle. Plus it caters to our mix-plate heritage by offering a little bit of everything. Don’t know what you want but kimchi, hamburgers, chili, oxtail soup, pork adobo, sushi, loco moco, poke, and chicken long rice all sound good? No problem...head to Zippy’s. It’s all on the menu...along with much more.