An America Classic: Manago Hotel receives national recognition by the James Beard Foundation
Hawai‘i’s oldest restaurant and South Kona favorite, Manago Hotel, was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as one of six America’s Classics Awards across the nation this week.
The award recognizes locally owned restaurants that have timeless appeal and reflect the character of their community.
Founded in 1917, Manago Hotel, located at 82-6155 Hawaiʻi Belt Rd. in Captain Cook, was opened by Japanese immigrants Kinzo Manago and his “picture bride,” Osame Nagata. They started selling udon, bread, jam, and coffee out of their home, and then added cots for those traveling between Hilo and Kona.
During World War II, the Army contracted Manago Hotel to feed soldiers.
“It’s still a simple place, the rooms have no AC nor TVs, and the restaurant is largely unchanged from the 1940s—from the hand sink by the entrance that the coffee farmers would use before entering, to the pork chops fried in a cast iron pan rumored to be as old as the hotel itself,” James Beard Foundation wrote about the hotel and restaurant.
Manago Hotel is run by fourth generation—sisters Britney and Taryn Manago. Britney grew up below the kitchen and had gone to college in California, when homesickness drove her back to the family business.
“This is the only thing I’ve ever really known that I’ve loved and wanted to always be a part of,” Britney Manago said.
On social media, the owners thanked the James Beard Foundation and Capital One for the honor of being chosen. On the Manago Hotel Facebook page, they write: “Something we never would’ve been able to achieve without the support of our amazing staff, family and community.”
To celebrate the honor, the Thursday special is $10 pork chops.