Originally published on January 25, 2016
The common life goal of a chef is to own their own restaurant. For Sheldon Simeon and his wife Janice the days can’t come soon enough. The Hilo native, who opened uber successful restaurants Star Noodle and Migrant has had his sights set on opening his own lunch spot for locals and visitors for years. “I always talked about owning a small lunch spot, it was like a dream,” he said. Next month this dream will become a reality, but it’s not without a little blood, sweat and some tears.
The idea started about a year ago when Kahului plate lunch staple Koko Ichiban Ya was about to close. Friends with the family, Simeon was referred to the landlord as a prospective tenant. It had been open for close to 25 years and after a heart condition the family decided it was time to close. Known for their tempura, chicken katsu and donburi Simeon had been visiting the place for many years and become close to the family. Together on July 1, 2015 he and his wife Janice took on the challenge of signing on and creating their own eatery named Tin Roof.
“Its been a long time coming for this, everyone started hearing about this last fall and I can’t wait for it to happen,” he said. “It’s a dream and it’s ours, we have been learning to work together. Its been different,” Janice said. The mother of Sheldon’s 4 children who has an accounting background is excited about the new adventure that is owning and operating your own restaurant.
The decision to choose this location was made because it was small, a good starter restaurant and some of the equipment was left behind for the Simeons to use. Although it was no easy task sprucing the place up. “Our original idea was to kinda put lipstick on a pig, but we started looking through and the 25 years came through. Some of the equipment wasn’t working, we decided to take out the plumbing, replace the grease trap and get the place up to specks.”
“Tin Roof is a representative of my upbringing in Hilo, the sound of it, the food, keeping it mom and pop but new age mom and pop,” he adds. Menu items will come served in a bowl, you pick your noodle, salad or rice base and then add the toppings. Some of the menu ideas include local comfort foods like shoyu hot dog, fried chicken, pork belly, and putting those staple entrees over vietnamese noodles, kale salad, or rice. The menu will likely change daily and will be based on what is freshest. The pair also want to utilize B grade vegetables from local farmers and pickle them to add to any bowl. And for those craving a sweet treat a cool, refreshing ice cake, which you could add sprinkles on top.
“It’s all been a learning process, we play it by ear and then we learn. Tt’s small enough where he can slowly learn,” Janice said. The two have been enlisting the help of many friends to assist with the repairs, renovations and installations.
Hours will start off during the daytime (for now) the goal is to open at 6am. Simeon says there is a lot of demand for a place where you can pick up breakfast or lunch in the area and go to work. They plan to stay open during the day or until sold out. Eventually special chef’s table dinners will be scheduled once of twice a month, stay tuned for that.
Currently, you can still catch the Top Chef fan favorite overseeing Migrant. Some of his teammates from Wailea will also be helping with Tin Roof in the future. The past year has been a juggling act getting Tin Roof ready, being daddy and loving husband but Simeon is happy to have his feet planted firmly in the ground on Maui.Follow @mauiwatch
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