Small Kalihi okazuya cranks out plates of free food on Thanksgiving

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

For the Matsumoto family, Thanksgiving is about giving back to the community with a little hard work and a lot of plate lunches.

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - From their small restaurant on Gulick Avenue, the family spreads the spirit of the holiday.

The restaurant is closed on Thanksgiving, but is open — in a sense.

"Not everybody gets to be home with their family and eat. Everybody's situation is different, so our family, the Matsumotos, like to give back," said Todd Matsumoto, owner of Matsumoto Okazuya and Restaurant.

With the help of son Tyler and daughter Taylor, and some family friends, Matsumoto makes and gives away Thanksgiving plate lunches to the homeless.

"We are lucky that we get to have a turkey lunch or dinner, they're lucky today because we're going to provide some for them," he said.

Each plate is a labor of love for the Matsumotos. They started cooking Wednesday and began assembling the lunches Thursday morning.

"So we got rice, chow fun, sweet potato, we got our turkey, our pumpkin pie, and our cranberry," said Matsumoto, pointing out each item, "kinda basic, we known for our chow fun, so we had to add the chow fun in there."

And once they're loaded up in Matsumoto's VW bus, it's off to Chinatown with 75 plate lunches -- and a few kind words with each delivery.

"What's up bruddah! Happy Thanksgiving," said son Tyler to a man hidden under a blue tarp off of Nimitz Highway.

The tradition for the Matsumotos started five years ago. And this year, their turkeys where donated -- free of charge -- by Foodland.

Eric Williams is homeless. He received one of the family's meals and called it a good day.

"What does it mean? Oh man, God is blessed. God is blessed. So are the people," said Williams.

"When you give something to someone less fortunate, you can have that inner feeling for yourself, you know," Matsumoto said.

Michael Kamehana also got a meal. The Matsumotos came up on him sitting on a wall along River Street.

"You come sit here everyday and then you expect one plate lunch or something? Hell, I'm sorry, no. This is a big deal. Thank you. Thank you."

For Todd Matsumoto and his family, the response is just one of the many blessings given and received for Thanksgiving.

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