When Michael Kitano was thinking about what to name his catering business, he took inspiration from his family and a very well-known fast food restaurant. The word “hapa” means “half” or “mixed” in Hawaiian. Kitano’s wife is Caucasian and he is Japanese, so his daughters are half of both ethnicities. You might also notice that Hapa Meals sounds a lot like “Happy Meals,” but without violating any copyright infringements. Kitano explains how his business, just launched in February, brings something unique to Los Angeles, Calif.
What inspired you to get into foodservice?
“I’ve always been around food. I have family members who own restaurants and Iron Chef (the original Japanese program) inspired me to get into foodservice. I thought it was amazing how these chefs could create recipes off the top of their head. With that inspiration, I tried to create different recipes as well and ended up in culinary school with these ideas and creativity.”
What do you love about your business?
“I love meeting different people who enjoy my food. It brings me happiness to see my customers happy, especially in times like these.”
What inspired your menu?
“The inspiration for my menu relies heavily on my family recipes that have been handed down from my great-grandparents to my grandparents and then finally to my parents. I do, however, make slight changes due to the ever changing palate of today. I also enjoy giving people options and not entirely have my menu specifically laid for a certain group.
I cook pretty much anything, but I do enjoy mixing cuisines together and coming out with something different. For example, I make rice buns for burgers or Japanese-style fried chicken on top of pesto linguine.”
What’s the most interesting thing to happen to your business?
“The coolest thing so far is being offered ambassadorships. I always explain to customers about the different equipment I use.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
“The biggest challenge I’ve overcome was actually launching. I wanted to start my own business, but I was hesitant because of the economy. But, instead of putting it off, I launched on Super Bowl Sunday and it was the best decision.”
What Cambro products help make your business work?
Links for Hapa Meals
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ADRIANA DESIDERIO IS THE DIGITAL CONTENT MANAGER AT CAMBRO.
Categories: Cambro Featured Business of the Week