Saying Aloha To Aoki’s

As we headed home from a trip to the North Shore last weekend, we stopped at Aoki’s for shave ice, and I enjoyed watching my boys partake of a decades-old island tradition, choosing their flavors care- fully and agonizing over whether or not to add adzuki beans or simply ice cream to their sweet rainbow ice.

I took extra pictures this time, because I’m sadly aware that it may have been our last visit to Aoki’s. The old wooden building is being razed to make way for a new commercial development, and the family owners will not reopen after their business closes some time early in 2013.

Part of my food writing over the past few years has involved reporting the closure of mom-and-pop stores, and I fear that the second- and third-generation family owners who struggle to keep up with escalating rents, food costs and a fast- paced culinary scene are on the way to extinction.

We must find a way to support the handful of family businesses still serving traditional recipes before they are all gone. Perhaps an endangered restaurant list is needed? I’m happy to spearhead that campaign.