A Slice of Aloha

Forget Krispy Kreme, Ted’s Bakery keeps it sweet

By: Jill Weinlein

Teds Bakery goodies
Some of the goodies available at the shop
Clients hungering for a taste of the local life might find what they’re looking for on the North Shore of Oahu, where an unassuming landmark called Ted’s Bakery serves sweet helpings of aloha.

On a recent visit, I watched islanders wait in line for warm, soft, square-shaped doughnuts called glazers. Eva Nakamura, the 86-year-old matriarch of the family business, told me the doughnuts are dipped in a 100 percent pure vanilla glaze. One taste and I immediately preferred it to the popular Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut.

The story of the bakery started when Eva’s son Ted, born and raised in Hawaii, graduated with a food-service degree and decided to explore the world. His first stop was San Francisco. After playing tourist for awhile, he looked for a job.

“Not having much luck, I called home and spoke with my brother Glenn who heard Lake Tahoe was beautiful, especially when it snowed,” he said.

Ted bought a bus ticket and, hours later, walked into Tahoe’s Harrah’s hotel to inquire about employment. There were two positions available in the kitchen. One was a dishwasher with graveyard shift hours, the other, a bakery helper.

“I took the bakery job because I liked the hours better,” said Ted.

Back home on Oahu, Ted’s parents had been running a North Shore general store at Sunset Beach since 1956.

Ted's Bakery
Left to right: Glenn Nakamura, Ted Nakamura
and Eva Nakamura, of Ted’s Bakery
“Eventually Mom and dad encouraged me to come back to the islands and operate a bakery in part of their building,” said Ted. “There was a need for a bakery and they said I could even name it after myself.”

Having gained experience in top-notch mainland restaurants, Ted decided it was time to plant some roots and see if his bakery would grow.

He started with simple Danish pastries in 1987 and in 1990 he introduced islanders to his chocolate-haupia (coconut) cream pie, now a wildly popular offering. In 1998, the family started a wholesale pie-delivery service.

“If a customer ordered five or more pies, we would make and deliver them anywhere on the island,” said Ted. “Office buildings, banks, schools, even administrators at the prison would call in their orders.”

Building managers would fax Ted’s pie order forms to tenants and get 500 responses at a time. Soon, supermarkets wanted to sell Ted’s pies, and Dole Plantation asked to sell his pineapple-upside-down cake.

Fresh from its 20th anniversary, Ted’s Bakery not only nourishes surfers on the North Shore, but also visitors from around the world who want to buy his famous $9.99 cream pies. Meanwhile, a company in Japan wants to open Ted’s Bakeries in train stations, while brother Glenn now living in Southern California is scouting locations for a Ted’s, possibly near Universal Studios. If the lines are as long as those on Oahu, it should be a blockbuster hit.


When Megan Oliveira moved to Hawaii six months ago, the first restaurant she tried was Ted’s Bakery. Today the Turtle Bay Resort administrative assistant is a regular at the North Shore eatery.

“The atmosphere reminds me of going to grandma’s house,” said Oliveira. “It’s a haven for local foodies.”

She likes going there in the morning, when the pastries come fresh out of the oven, but she readily recommends the mahimahi plate at lunch and desserts like coconut cake.

“The food tastes good anywhere, whether you take it to Sunset Beach or just eat out in front,” she said.