National honor humbles Soul de Cuba Cafe owner
Jesus Puerto, owner of Soul de Cuba Cafe
, has been selected from thousands of nominees as a finalist in the National Restaurant Association's Faces of Diversity Award competition.
The honor recognizes diverse individuals' success in the industry.
Winners will be named next month, but all finalists will be profiled in a booklet to be distributed to members of Congress, the industry and the media. The stories will also appear on the NRA Web site at www.restaurant.org.
"If I win, it means a lot of responsibility in terms of where we come from" Florida's Ybor City, home of the oldest Cuban community in the U.S.
"Being one of the first black Cuban families and to carry that heritage, there's a lot of responsibility. So to be honored in this way, I feel like I'm carrying that for everyone and I would take that honor and just somehow hand that to my ancestors."
"Many of their pictures are on Soul de Cuba's walls.
Puerto opened the restaurant at 1121 Bethel Street in July of 2006, about 18 months after he, his brother Robert and their partner Yoon Kim opened the first Soul de Cuba Cafe in New Haven, Conn.
The New Haven location is in an "old town that just became a restaurant scene," with 15 to 20 new restaurants cropping up.
Still, the Honolulu restaurant's sales often outpace New Haven, he said.
Puerto loves Hawaii, which has been "very welcoming."
""We love especially what's happening in Chinatown, with the city's support. The neighborhood there is wonderful."
"He got into the restaurant biz after years in the nonprofit sector. He has helped about 15 large and small local nonprofits including Hawaii Public Radio, the Life Foundation and MDA.
ANOTHER CROSSES OVER
Garett Kamemoto is the latest KHNL-TV news staffer to not just jump ship, but jump careers.
Three hours into his new gig as a senior account executive at Communications-Pacific Inc. yesterday, he had not seen Darth Vader. (Journalists joke that when a reporter goes into public relations, they cross over to "the dark side.")
His suggested title, "sophomoric account executive,"
didn't fly. "I guess only people who know me would get that one," he deadpanned.
Why the job change? Opportunity not only knocked, "it forced the door down."
"Kamemoto's news career began at the old KHVH-AM 990, which "had these typewriters with missing letters. You'd type your story and then go back and fill in all the n's." His legislative wrap-ups regularly credited people who had helped him gather information.
He became legislative reporter for KGMB-TV in 1992 and went to KHNL as assignment editor in 2003.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org