A music star and a restaurateur, the Aoki brothers find common ground in family values

Steve Aoki is a music star, while his brother Kevin is a restaurateur.
Updated: Feb. 9, 2021 at 10:12 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Steve Aoki is a worldwide star.

With concerts across continents, the self-made millionaire DJ’s hits have gone to the top of the charts in the electronic music genre.

Aoki throws some of the biggest electronic music media events across the globe.

But his humble beginnings were at Benihana Restaurant here in Honolulu.

“It’s changed a lot from when I worked here,” Aoki said. “I was 16 when I worked here. So that was ... almost 30 years ago.”

Their father started Benihana Restaurant.

Steve’s brother Kevin was managing the Hilton Hawaiian Village location, where Steve started to work. That experience brought the realization to the younger brother — he didnʻt want to wash dishes for the rest of his life.

Kevin got Steve working in the kitchen side, then had him hosting out front.

“Kevin made sure I learned both sides of the business from the ground up. And then music took over after that,” Steve said.

These days, if Kevin goes to see Steve, it’s non-stop — no matter where they are.

“Whenever I travel with Steve, you know, to watch his performances, the whole morning before the performance, till the performance, we’re out, diving off cliffs, going on jet-skis I mean, it’s, it’s a full 15 hours a day,” Kevin said. “It’s a 15 hours before the show starts.”

Steve used to just go from gig to the hotel then to the airport; and the cycle would repeat. To him, it wasn’t “living.”

He changed it so that no matter where he goes, he’s out experiencing life. In countries around the world, he is “experiencing” and sharing with his audience and taking his fans along for the ride.

He is a major influencer on social media and has his hands in lots of different businesses. He is a philanthropist as well.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Steve was back to visit Kevin to have a little bit of vacation here in Hawaii and to support his brother as the restaurant if finally back under Aoki family management.

“So I was like, uh, I’ll come back when I’m done with the music side,” Steve said. “And then now here we are.”

Steve celebrated, even did a little family flat-top cooking on the grills in the restaurant, like he used to in his youth — and when the vacation was finished, he headed right back out to release new music.

As for the restaurant — Rocky Teppanyaki — manger Kevin Aoki said he wants to bring his father’s spirit from when he opened Benihanas back in the early 1960s.

“He wanted everyone to have a great time and he wanted to bring the chef out and he coined it as entertainment, so that’s what I want to bring back is his, his spirit of like entertaining customers, his, you know, his spirit of making customers happy,” Kevin said.

Don’t be surprised while you’re enjoying your next meal there, if Kevin stops by your table. It’s what his dad used to do.

Two brothers, continuing to be at the top of their game, doing what they love to do and living their dream.

Copyright 2021 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.