By Brandon Bosworth
Eggs ‘n Things has come a long way since Jerry and Jan Fukunaga opened its first location on Ena Road on the edge of Waikiki in 1974. While the original location is long closed, there are now four Eggs ‘n Things on Oahu and one on Guam.
There are even more than 20 partner restaurants in Japan, a country Eggs ‘n Things has long had a special relationship with. “Back in the early ’80s, there was one employee, Yoshi, who was Japanese but lived in Hawaii,” said director of operations Michael Skedeleski. “She would hand out free pancakes to Japanese tourists. They didn’t know what pancakes were, so she called them ‘Hawaiian hotcakes.’ To this day, many people in Japan and South Korea think of pancakes as a Hawaiian food.”
Over the years, Eggs ‘n Things has been featured regularly in Japanese media, including magazines and television programs.
In addition to the food that’s made it famous, the company also offers a retail line featuring accessories such as caps, tote bags and food-related items.
“The pancake mix is a huge part of our business,” said Skedeleski. “Customers will wait while staff hand pack the mix into bags.”
The Fukunagas’ motto was “Serving quality food in the spirit of aloha.” Skedeleski said that Eggs ‘n Things still follows that principle, in part by incorporating fresh local eggs and local, grass-fed beef. Furthermore, only line-caught fish from Hawaiian waters are served.
Skedeleski credits part of the success of Eggs ‘n Things to being able to “always adapt to changing markets.” For example, the restaurant has started utilizing handheld electronic ordering systems to help improve speed and minimize mistakes.
In the future, he sees the possibility of offering ordering kiosks or placing orders through smartphone apps. However, Skedeleski doesn’t want to lose the personal touch and hospitality Eggs ‘n Things is known for, and stresses the importance of still offering “as much human contact as possible. Guests still like to talk to people, and visitors to Hawaii want the cultural experience.”
While some restaurants have embraced extravagant plating, Skedeleski is wary about going too far down that path. “The temptation is to cater to the Instagram market, but we want to focus on quality, not just being visually appealing.”
While Eggs ‘n Things has grown significantly over the last 45 years, Skedeleski said that “despite lots of demand,” the company’s growth has been at a conscious pace. There have been frequent calls for the company to open restaurants on neighbor islands. According to Skedeleski, a major obstacle to further expansion locally is not having enough workers. “Whenever we open a new location it is very hard on current employees,” he said. “People are our greatest resource, and we don’t want to tax managers and staff too much. We just focus on where we are now.”
When looking for new employees, Skedeleski said attitude and availability top the list of desirable traits. “If you have the right attitude, we can teach you the skills,” he said. “And if you can solve problems, you have job security with us.”
Many employees are very loyal to the company. Skedeleski said there are people who started with Eggs ‘n Things at the age of 16 and have been with the company for more than 10 years, working their way up to manager. He mentioned others who have gone on to work at large corporate restaurants but ended up coming back to Eggs ‘n Things. What’s the secret?
“We want to pay people what they are worth,” he said. “And at Eggs ‘n Things, we value input from employees. You are never just a number with us.”
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COMPANY: Eggs ‘n Things
LOCATION: 339 Saratoga Road, Waikiki (also Kalakaua Avenue, Piikoi Street, and Ko Olina Center)
PRESIDENT: Yuka Nawano
EMPLOYEES: 222 in Hawaii
YEAR FOUNDED: 1974
BENEFITS: Medical, dental, 401(k), flexible spending accounts, employee discounts, free meals while working
PHOTOS COURTESY EGGS ‘N THINGS