“Probably one of the most famous stores in Haleiwa. Visitors from around the world will stand in line for one little shave ice. It really is good stuff.”
Shave ice is a local treat like a snow cone, except the ice is much more finely shaved. Colorful syrups are poured on top while ice cream, mochi or azuki beans are placed on the bottom. Aoki’s Shave Ice is another popular alternative in Haleiwa.
Born in Hawaii, Mamoru Matsumoto’s family returned to Hiroshima-ken when he was a toddler, and they struggled to survive. He worked as an apprentice at a sake factory and other odd jobs, but the income was insufficient.
He and his older brother boarded a ship to Hawaii to find jobs to supplement the family’s income. His brother later became ill and returned to Japan, while Mamoru continued to labor on the sugar plantation, the railroad, and eventually became a salesman for the Sakai Store (currently occupied by Pioneer Ace Hardware Haleiwa). In order to expand his knowledge, he attended night school to learn English and Math.
Through friends and relatives he met his wife, Helen Momoyo Ogi, and they were married at the Haleiwa Jodo Mission. Mamoru worked long hours while Helen became a seamstress. They dreamed of opening their own business and purchasing a home for his family in Japan and for themselves.
Mr. Kazuo Tanaka gave them the opportunity to open their own grocery store, M. Matsumoto Store Inc. in the previous Tanaka Store at 66-087 Kamehameha Highway, in Haleiwa, Hawaii. At first, Mamoru peddled his wares on a bicycle, until he was able to afford a panel truck. He went from camp to camp, taking orders and delivering the goods, while Helen manned the store and did some sewing.
With the birth of their three children, Glenn, Janice and Stanley, they needed to expand their business. With the perfect location along Oahu’s beautiful North Shore, a decision was made to commence operating a shave ice stand in the midst of the grocery business. The carloads of racing enthusiasts and the waves of surfers and hippies in the ’60s brought people from across the globe to this quaint store to purchase the shave ice, or “snow cone” cascading with their homemade syrup.
As the business grew, their dreams and aspirations were materialized. However, the couple was no longer able to handle the influx of customers. While Glenn and Janice attended the University of Hawaii, Stanley decided to remain home and assist his parents in running the business.
Stanley and his wife, Noriko, successfully converted the groceries to T-shirts, souvenirs, and snacks, and he eventually became the proprietor while his parents semi-retired and later passed away.
Today, on a warm, sunny day, the store produces 1,000 shave ice. Half of the customers are tourists. Many people from around the world have visited the store. Should you have the opportunity to visit the store, you’ll see their pictures on the walls. Jack Johnson and the cast of Hawaii 5-0 are a few you’ll recognize.
Matsumoto Shave Ice has been displayed in various magazines, news articles, and television programs, the most recent being on the most recently seen on Canada’s “Breakfast Television”, Japan’s “MoyaMoya Summers”, and on various shows on the Food Network & Cooking Channel.
Take a drive to Oahu’s North Shore and visit us soon!