Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to lead teams in opening eight corporate and freestanding restaurants. The highlight was the creation of OLA, a beachfront restaurant on the sands of Kuilima Bay that I opened with my wife Cheryl in 2005.
Two years later, our daughter Maya Rose was born and her life was also immersed in the food and beverage industry. There are many lessons that she continues to learn because of her exposure to our business and I believe its making a positive impact on all aspects of her life.
Maya Rose knew from an early age that relationships are important and need to be nurtured. Crewmembers over the ten years that OLA was in operation became her extended family. Farmers, Vendors, Winemakers, Fishermen, Guests and Chefs were Uncles and Aunties. She saw us welcome everyone with genuine aloha and gratitude into our restaurant home. She knew that it was important to take time to get to know people and their stories. We see her today developing strong friendships with her classmates, teammates and teachers and making meaningful connections.
Maya Rose is exposed to many different foods and products because of our business. As a result, she knows the importance of making healthy choices and is an adventurous eater that has a respect for cuisines from around the world. We are always excited traveling with her because we know she looks forward to learning about new cultures and culinary scenes as much as we do. So far, she’s done cooking classes in Tokyo and Bangkok and it’s great seeing her expand her palate and encourage her friends to try new things as well.
When we closed OLA in 2015 after ten wonderful years, Maya Rose saw that perseverance and determination played a role even when a chapter ends. She learned that you remain positive, optimistic and excited for what’s to come and if you remain true to your values, opportunities will present itself.
I now hold the position of Chef de Cuisine of BLT Steak Waikiki and Cheryl is the General Manager of Side Street Inn Kapahulu. Long hours and late nights are the norm for us, but she knows that whatever you do, you do your best and you work hard. This past summer, we witnessed Maya Rose train hard for her first Junior Olympics in Judo. She practiced daily for months, late into the night and even on weekends. She was determined and persevered. Although it was trying at times, she remained positive and confident and ended up coming home with a silver medal. I know that the lessons she learned as a restaurant kid probably had something to do with it.