A local general store that used to be a place that was "on the way" home or "on the way" to work has now become the place to stop by. Almost anyone from Liliha, Alewa and Nu'uanu is familiar with John's Grocery in Pu'unui.
It is a humble, little yellow store that's as full as memories as it is food.
"It's always the first stop," said Brent.
"It's good on a nice hot day," said Archie Lardizabal of John's Grocery.
It's up the road from Mae Mae Elementary, not far from Hawaii Baptist and close to the park.
"Good stuff. Can't beat a good shave ice," said Dennis. "Everybody drives by and toots their horn."
You might not think to stop at this store and those that do just pass through.
"They don't say too much. They just go in and buy," said Archie.
Everybody knows Uncle Archie though.
"Oh he's terrific, yeah," said Paul.
He and his other half took over John's Grocery on Liliha Street in 1982.
"At the beginning this store would have fallen down," said Archie.
The store has been open since 1926; kind of hard to believe it lasted that long. For years it was called Pu'unui Market. Then Archie took over and renamed it John's Grocery after original owner John Ing.
But it's the people they say have made the business succeed for decades.
"Well, because of the people; the neighborhood is so nice," said Lily Ing whose family owns John's Groceries.
To this day, Lily Ing lives next door and is always happy to see the crowds.
"Yeah, the kids are still coming," said Lily.
"Best SPAM musubi," said Dennis.
"I got the musubi, and then the Portuguese sausage musubi," said Micah.
A lot of stuff sells out at the store and there is big a reason – it's homemade. The sandwiches, bentos and of course the musubi are made every day by Archie. He makes about a hundred musubi each day.
He won't tell the secret ingredient he uses, but did give me some tips.
"I'll tell you one ingredient – shoyu. That's it," said Archie.
Archie says he likes the spam extra crispy and the rice to meat ratio has got to be just right.
"The majority of them say they've got to be raised on the spam musubi," said Archie.
"Grandpa used to take me here when I was a kid so, memories. So, gotta come back every time," said Brent.
Over the years in the little yellow store there are so many memories that change as much as they stay the same.
"If you count 'em up, you probably have over 50," said Archie.
The store includes racks of candy – the li hing mui flavor is a big hit – dusty shelves with char siu next to cupcakes, an odds-and-ends showcase and a rummage sale – a dollar a doll.
The cluster of offerings replaces what was once a mini-arcade.
"To me, it's good for the community," said Lily.
"Kind of a vanishing breed," said Dennis.
After years behind the counter Archie says he's not sure how much longer he'll be here.
"All depends how it goes," said Archie.
But for the old-timers and the newcomers it is a lesson in how something as simple as a little smile, a lot of heart and some ono grinds can stand the test of time.
"Gone is the era of all the good mom and pops. This is one of the few remaining. I hope they stay here for another hundred years," said Dennis.
Although the store was once called Pu'unui Market and then John's Grocery, Archie says most people know it as John's Store.