HAVING just arrived in California I picked up the local business paper, the Orange County Business Journal, and saw they had sponsored the ‘family owned business awards’ luncheon, so I thought this was a good way to strike up some trade.
The guest speaker was Wing Lam, one of five brothers of Chinese descent who run the restaurant chain called Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, which is fashioned on a beach shack theme.
In true surf fashion, Wing wore a surf shirt and sported waist-length hair and a long goatee beard among 300 guests in full business attire in the marquee at the back of the Irvine Hyatt.
Wing spoke about his family migrating from China to Brazil in 1958 where they opened their first Chinese restaurant. In 1975 the family moved to Orange County where their father ran the traditional Chinese restaurants.
In 1988 the boys decided to take some of their South American upbringing and their love of surfing and put them together to create a great formula that has worked in Southern California (I like to eat there).
The family awards were in true family spirit. Stories were told of ‘starting in garages with mum and dad’ and now turning over $60 million, like the large business winners Metagenics, a vitamin company.
Medium business winner Allen Cadillac, who I know, and small business winner Sundown Lighting Company also had interesting tales to tell.
The event ran from 12 to 2pm. After the lunch, in true Australian fashion, I went to the hotel bar to have a drink with some of the guests at the awards but instead ended up sitting in the bar by myself with my nametag on drinking a weak American beer.
Some things are a lot different here. I’m trying to put a WA wine and WA live lobster deal together.
It’s hard work but, so far, I like it.
- Jim Trandos (2003 FBA Awards winner)
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