From Waikiki to Kalihi, Ray’s Cafe owner serves up local favorites for 40 years

Ray’s Cafe owner has served up local favorites for 40 years. Felix Pintor's journey is the quintessential immigrant success story.
Published: Nov. 5, 2023 at 9:50 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kalihi has been called Little Manila because of its large concentration of Filipino immigrants and Filipino-owned businesses.

Today, the neighborhood is home to many hidden food gems, like Ray’s Cafe.

But the owner’s name isn’t Ray. It’s Felix Pintor.

He’s owned this popular eatery for nearly 40 years. Before that, he had a place in downtown.

Pintor’s journey is the quintessential immigrant success story. He moved to Kalihi in 1971 from Vigan in the Ilocos Sur region of the Philippines.

He started as a dishwasher at the Ilikai hotel and eventually worked his way up to work alongside the chef.

From Waikiki to the heart of Kalihi, Pintor’s hearty food is no frills at reasonable prices.

“They told me we supposed to be serving Filipino food, but I don’t serve Filipino food though. All these kinds like this, I serving local kine style,” Pintor said.

Regulars drive from across the island for Pintor’s specialties, from local plates like oxtail stew, chicken and hamburger steak to high end eats like lobster tails, steak, fish, shrimp, crab legs and his famous prime rib.

“All my customers here I love them especially local people and a lot of people from in the mainland,” Pintor said.

Customers say they love the ambiance, prices and Felix’s friendly demeanor.

Thanks to a small but hardworking staff, the shop is open every day from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“You know how long this lady been working with me?” Pintor said, pointing to a petite woman named Elaine.

“Since 1987. I’m supposed to marry her but she’s married already so no can,” says Pintor, with a laugh. “I’m just kidding.”

Pintor likes the freedom of being his own boss and works to travel.

“I love traveling to other cities. So I need money,” Pintor said.

When asked when he plans to retire, Pintor says he’s too young to retire.

“Only got 74 years old, too young,” he said.

So next time you drive through Kalihi, stop by for a taste of one of the best eateries in Hawaii.

Ray’s Cafe is located at 2033 N. King St. in Kalihi, (808) 841-2771.

For HNN’s series on Filipino American History, click here.