Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aroha Restaurant: This Valentine's Day...

As the weeks countdown, I am getting more and more excited for Valentine's Day at Aroha. It's strange because I'm normally such a traditionalist when it comes to the holidays, and I partially expect myself to feel bummed out that I don't get to have my own romantic dinner with my hubby. However, reservations are already filling up and I'm incredibly excited for our special menu.

Gwith has been working with his molecular gastronomy set that I bought him for Christmas to learn some cool new things to do like making foams and sugar-glass shells. I've been encouraging him to practice these methods in hopes that he can use some on the Valentine's Day menu.

Speaking of which, we will be releasing our full Valentine's Day menu tomorrow online! At the moment, our menu includes some delicious (and romantic) options including Oysters with a citrus foam and micro basil, and my personal favorite dessert option, Dark Chocolate Kiss incased with white chocolate mousse sprinkled with gold leaf and rose crystals. For those with allergies and dietary restrictions, you'll be happy to know that our pre-fix menu is 100% Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Optional, and Vegetarian Optional as well. Each dish is also paired with a delectable New Zealand wine.

I'm going to start working on a romantic music playlist for that Saturday evening and I'm definitely brainstorming on decor ideas to make the restaurant even more romantic.

To finish off the evening, every guest will also receive a copy of my CD single, "Stepping Stone", the love song I wrote for Gwithyen before we married. The single will come with a small booklet telling our own personal Aroha story of how we met and fell in love. I am incredibly excited to share my music with everyone on this special day!

For those of you who won't be joining us for Valentine's Day, and would like to listen, please visit my music page or find me on iTunes. If you'd like to hear one of my more recent live recorded songs, listen below to "Hideaway".

If you haven't made a reservation yet for Valentine's Day and do plan on joining us, I highly suggest making a reservation now, as we're already 50% booked for the evening!

Reserve Now

30990 Russell Ranch Rd Unit C, Westlake Village, CA 91362
© 2014 Aroha Restaurant.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"Hideaway" - My Newest Song!

I've never been brave enough before to post my rough song recordings anywhere public (other than to my Facebook friends) but I figured it was about time I broke my fear.

For the past few months, the clouds in my head have finally parted and I've been able to write new songs again...and I've written quite a few lately. It also helps that I've been getting much better at the guitar!

My latest song, "Hideaway", is dedicated to my amazing husband, Gwith, who is with me even in our darkest hours and is always there to pull me through. I don't know where I would be in life without him and I am grateful every day to have him in my life.

"Hideaway" Lyrics:

My love for you grows stronger everyday
and when I'm with you, you take my breath away
If I just close my eyes
will we be dancing in the skies?
If we just fly away
We can sway for eternity, hey hey.

I wanna hide away with you tonight
I wanna let my heart feel free to fly
I wanna curl into your arms and know
that with you, there's no place I'd rather go.
The days go by and all I want is you.
You're my everything, you're with me through and through.
If we just find a cave, will we be snuggling through the night?
If we just misbehave, we just might be brave enough tonight!
You hold me close, we're blowing in the wind.
Oh, the water rose, we didn't seem to mind...
If you just brush my face
Will I be melting in your embrace?
If we just feel the tide,
we can sail worldwide.
That with you, there's no place I'd rather go. x2

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aroha Restaurant: Our Craziest Night Yet

I'm not going to lie - Saturday night was amazing in a lot of ways but today, I'm still feeling an endless amount of anxiety.

The truth is, nobody and nothing you do is ever perfect. And especially not on the first try. That night was definitely one of those examples. Things didn't run as smoothly as they normally do and service was slow, even though for us, it felt like a marathon was being run. First of all, our last "busy" night was in November, and we served around 65 people in 3.5 hours. Before that, we slowly built from serving 30 people on a Saturday night, to 40 people, to 50 people, etc. We still had a few hiccups with 65 people but in general, we had eased into it.  Suddenly once December hit, our Saturday nights slowed to a halt. Last week, we served 30 people for 3 hours. So imagine our surprise this Saturday when 85 people showed up in a 2.5 hour timeframe...

For the very first time since we opened, not a single table at the restaurant was empty. It was amazing to know so many people had suddenly decided to give us a try. Of course, I've been wishing repeatedly that we and our staff had expected it!

With only four people in the kitchen preparing three course meals for 85 people within a 2.5 hour time frame, I'm surprised a majority of the tables actually got served in a timely manner. I was even more surprised while making the rounds from table to table that one table actually got their main courses too early!

Luckily, for the most part, the guests were incredibly understanding. They know we're new, they see we're working hard, and they have amazing confidence that we will get our pacing down. Unfortunately, there's always a customer or two that you can't rectify the situation with no matter what...and it completely kills me.

For me, it doesn't matter that 81 of our 85 guests were happy and understanding. In the end, all I can think about are those four customers who left unhappy. Why? Because I truly want everyone to be happy. I want everyone to have the best experience possible and to know that we couldn't give it to them devastates me completely. To make matters worse, Yelp, always comes around to haunt you. Again, countless five star reviews but when that one one star review creeps up, it's heartbreaking every time. I wish I could say I'm sorry to them or turn the clock back to make things run differently. But truthfully, no matter what I wish I could've done, I'm pretty sure if I repeated the day, it all would have turned out the same. No matter what, we couldn't be everywhere at once and I can't continue to beat myself up for it.

Because that's the thing. When you're running your very first business at 23 and 26 years old, or any age for that matter, your going to mess up. You're going to have an off day. But how else are you ever going to make something successful in life? No one succeeds at anything in life without screwing up the first few times around, because honestly, that's the only way you learn.

The most hurtful thing to me is to have our work be chalked up to being a result of "amateur management". The hardest thing about being a young business owner is that all of our mistakes are considered a result of us being young and therefore incompetent. Yes, we're young. Yes, things did not go as planned. That's not amateur, that's just life. For a fresh new business, there's no way mistakes aren't going to ever be made. However, many restaurants have these problems after years of being open, with experienced managers over the age of 40. In the end, I feel proud because we're only four months in. In four months, we've dealt with so many challenges and have managed to arise to the occasion practically every single time. So we made a mistake. Who hasn't? In the end, all we can do is learn and grow from the experience. And for the last year, my husband and I have done exactly that.

For the rest of our time in this industry, and in life in general, we will continue to learn from our negative experiences and use them to our advantage.

So to those customers Saturday night who left unhappy and angry, I am sorry. We didn't intentionally fall behind in the kitchen and we didn't intentionally avoid apologizing to your table. We will however, continue to intentionally work to fix these problems so they do not happen again on our future busy nights.