HONALO, Hawaii – A treasured Kona kupuna has passed away.
Shizuko “Gramma” Teshima – the matriarch of the iconic Teshima’s Restaurant – is being remembered on Hawaii Island today. In a technological turn that would have been hard to fathom when Teshima took over the family business in Honalo in 1929, Shizuko’s passing was announced on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“We are saddened today with the passing of our beloved Gramma Teshima,” the business posted. “Thank you all for your love and support through all the years. She will always be in our hearts and memories. Thank you for being a part of Gramma’s legacy. She lives on in the family and restaurant she so loved. Thank you all for your continued love and aloha.”
The short statement elicited a deluge of condolences and heartfelt remembrances from Kona’s people, many of whom have spent hours at the landmark Japanese establishment over their own lifetimes.
No one living in Kona can claim to remember the town without Shizuko. According to an article in Hana Hou magazine Teshima took over her father’s general store in Honalo when she was 22 years old, before there was electricity in the establishment. The article by Michael Shapiro encapsulates the time. “She and her husband Fumio had blocks of ice trucked in from Hilo, kept cold with Hawaiian sea salt. They worked by the light of kerosene lamps late at night, when it was cool, grinding the blocks for ice cream.” The place became Teshima’s Restaurant in 1960. Shizuko has been a fixture at the business throughout its history, always taking time to talk with her customers.
Teshima’s Restaurant survived these many years, and prospered. The establishment became the quintessential, Kona mom-and-pop eatery, linking the past to the present.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi always made it a point to visit Teshima every year on or around her birthday. In July, the mayor stopped by as she turned 106 years old. “Mrs. Teshima is an amazing woman!” wrote the mayor on his own Facebook page. “Hau‘oli lā hānau to a living treasure of Hawai‘i Island!”
Aloha, Shizuko “Gramma” Teshima.