director Y. Hata
Where were you born and raised? Oakland. I went to UCLA and then to law school at Berkeley.
So a pretty traditional food background, then. (laughs) I was a designer at UCLA, studied computer animation, glass blowing, I was an artist … all the things my parents did not want me to do. Once I realized law was not for me, the skills I learned led me through the art world to strategic illustration and eventually to restaurant work.
So you were able to draw what restaurateurs were thinking? Yes! I would go into agencies and draw things that people wanted – for retail stores and for corporations like Chevron and then for MacDonald’s, CPK and all kinds of food operators. Drawing prototype stores led to restaurant design.
So where are some of the best-designed restaurants in Honolulu?
Azure at Royal Hawaiian Hotel is fancy and fun. Ola at Turtle Bay – how can a beach restaurant not be great when you let Mother Nature do the designing? Plumeria Café at Kahala is casual yet posh, with attitude.
How about favorite places to eat? Bogart’s for morning coffee, ,Pioneer Saloon on Monsarrat, South Shore Grill, Diamond Head Grill.
What advice do you have for new restaurant owners? Let people graze. Look at the street food craze – it’s all about people tasting small plates. And recognize that combining food concepts can work.
Lemonade Alley is such a great concept. You’ve really found a way to reach kids and teach them about business sense. Lemonade Alley involves teams of kids from kindergarten through high school who come up with hands-on business plans for lemonade stands. They have to come up with a recipe for lemonade that has to actually have lemons in it. They sell their lemonade and donate the profits to a charity of their choice.
Any tips on what’s worked well? Everything works! Hot lemonade, cold lemonade, pop rock lemonade, lemonade in ice container … and everyone designs their own stand. The kids add games, sell crafts and everything earns points for their booth.
Entrepreneurs are usually highly motivated. What’s the payout?
There’s $1,000 cash prize for each division that always gets lots of attention from the kids. The next one is April 27 and kids can enter on our website at lemonadealley.com