Friday, February 5, 2016

The Rollercoaster of Confidence

It's hard to believe that it's been two years since we began putting together our plans and searching for the location for our very first restaurant, Aroha. Ever since that moment, we have learned a lot. About customer service, about management, about life in general. To say it's been easy would be a lie. Some days, I close my eyes and imagine what life would be like if we had never chosen this path. But honestly, as tough as it is, I could never wish for anything different than what I have. Somedays, I feel like I could crumble under all of the pressure but in the end I know, these experiences are only making me stronger.

Gwith and I in 2014 after signing the lease for Aroha
It's hard owning something that you care so deeply about, especially when you have the occasional diner who never gives you a chance. When we designed our restaurant, we wanted to create an intimate and romantic environment that would make our customers feel welcome every day. We had a limited amount of space in the building and we did our best to accomplish our goals. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crushed every time I read an occasional review saying our interior looks like a cheap Denny's. Our interior was incredibly costly from our standpoint and we've tried our hardest to make it beautiful. I guess, for me, the hardest part is knowing that I came up with the design. On slow days, I can't help but blame myself thinking that I should've done something differently. That maybe, even as we're constantly growing, I'm the reason we're not packed every minute.

Aroha Interior at night
I know. It's silly. Especially when realizing that other times, customers walk in and compare our interior to sitting inside a magical jewel box. I guess at the end of the day, you just can't please every one. It's crazy how for every 100 great reviews, even seeing one bad one, can be crushing. When we run an ad on Facebook to try to increase our customer base and one person takes to it to say "I was unimpressed", they don't realize the potential effect that their response could be having on not just our business, but our family and our livelihood. I know. As an adult and a business owner, it should just be understood that this is life. People criticize and judge and it's our job to be strong enough to not let it affect us and our mindset. But why should the feeling of being knocked down just be understood? Can't people be supportive? My whole life I've dealt with people who just try to bring you down. From extended family members, to teachers, to bosses, and I just can't for the life of me understand why people need to destroy others to make themselves feel more important. When did people learn to have such a negative mindset?

Yesterday, I heard a story about a family friend's daughter who is beginning to have the same struggles at my former high school as I did. She was out sick for a few days before finals and was badgered by two teachers for being absent. She's a smart girl with straight A's but she's losing her confidence because these teachers feel the need to bring her down. When I went through these same experiences, I chose to drop out (read my blog, Confessions from a High School Drop-Out). No longer did I feel smart, confident, or capable. I lost all hope in my abilities and it's a struggle I deal with every day. It's nine years later and no matter how many things I accomplish, I still live with this shadow over my head. A shadow that I'm constantly trying to leave behind. But every once in a while when I think it's gone, it looms over me again. Sometimes, I wish I could go back to those days and tell these teachers that what they're doing is wrong. People are so focused on teaching children not to bully, but what about adults? I was never physically beaten up in school but I can't even begin to count the amount of times I've been mentally beaten by various adults in my life. From being told by relatives that I'm a "selfish bitch" and "not welcome in the family" for the decision to not invite someone to my small wedding who by all accounts was a stranger to me (read my blog, The Untold Story of a Choice that Revealed Everything), to being told by my Grandmother when I was 12 years old that if I married out of my religion, she would no longer love me, to being told by a school teacher that I would never amount to anything in life because I had health problems, and to being told by a boss that I wasn't working hard enough even after working 90 to 100 hour weeks.

Our wedding in my childhood backyard

I will never understand why people just can't be supportive. When I think that this is the world my son is going to grow up in, all I can hope is that I can do my best to surround him with people that care for him and teach him what's right and wrong. I want him to know more than anything that he is a strong, confident, and capable person that can accomplish anything. What worries me is knowing that my parents taught me this every day too...but at the end of the day, there were too many other people out there letting me know how much of a failure I was in there eyes.

Our son Bailey and I
So please, to anyone who's reading this blog, don't let this be you. Today (and everyday), remember to tell people, whether it's the bagger at the grocery store, an employee of yours, a family member, a friend, a co-worker, your boss, or just someone you casually strike up a conversation with, that they're doing a wonderful job... And before you criticize someone for not working hard enough or not satisfying your expectations, think about the effect that you're creating on their life and their mental mindset. Maybe there's another way to help them without knocking them down. Maybe all they need is to have a someone, even a stranger, make them smile, because maybe too many have already made them cry.

When I have a customer who tells me how much they love their experience at the restaurant and how welcome they feel, it helps get me through the hardest of days. Each time I feel like giving up, I hear these customers and it rejuvenates me to keep on trying. It's this mindset that helps me, my husband, and our employees continue to strive to provide the best service possible.

Thank you all for reading.

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30990 Russell Ranch Rd Unit C, Westlake Village, CA 91362
© 2015 Aroha Restaurant.


  1. I dined at Aroha for the first time Saturday night with my niece and sister-in-law. Everything was impeccable. There is so much loving in the food and presentation. (I have some food allergies and I was so confident I'd be well taken care of after the chef came and mentioned you had some of the same and he knew how to prepare food for me). It was the first dinner out, in a very long time, where I knew I would not have to be checking my food for allergens! I also thought of the two of you - my husband had started his own business in the gourmet food industry right after we were engaged. I know the work that it takes to run a restaurant. You two,both, clearly have so much heart and soul in to this. I send you both blessings of gratitude and abundance and time to nurture yourselves. Thank you for your beautiful creations!

    1. Thank you so much! I am so glad your experience was wonderful!! :D I have a long list of food allergies and know first hand how hard it is to eat out. I'm always afraid my dish will come out with an allergen, and I'm so used to ending up with very plain dishes because they can never accommodate. It is definitely our goal to make sure our customers don't have this experience at Aroha. :)