It was opening day, my restless mind could only think about everything that could possibly go wrong today, my body was shaking with nervousness. The breakfast I tried so hard to eat would not settle in my stomach. Our very first day in business and it will be my responsibility … wait a minute … Me? A 19-year-old kid? The youngest of four brothers is going to attempt to run a restaurant? You got to be joking right? Well, it is not a joke, although there were many others that doubted in my ability and my success and may have took me as a joke. I have always believed in myself and went through proper training and preparation for this very moment. It had finally arrived and now it was my turn to show what I could do, against all odds.
Waba Grill opened the doors to its first restaurant in 2004 in the city of Commerce, California. Waba Grill strives to be the option whether you are looking for chicken, salmon, steak, shrimp or tofu, Waba Grill provides a little for everyone, along with that we also have an open kitchen policy which basically means we have nothing to hide. We want you to see when your food starts from raw to when its cooked to when it’s on your plate, we want you to feel comfortable with what you are eating and at Waba Grill you can see the entire process. With the use of only the highest quality food such as our Rib Eye Steak to our Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon, all of our meats are cooked naturally without the use of any oils or grease. Waba Grill strives to be your partner in healthy eating.
This concept of changing the way people view fast food and providing the healthy alternative has really caught on to the public. Waba Grill has grown to over 100 restaurants with plans of expanding nationwide. This type of expansion and growth really caught the attention of my family in a business perspective. We all came to an agreement that we want to be a part of it. The issue was my three older brothers were busy working at our family owned tire shop in Fontana. Which meant I would need to be the one with training and knowledge to operate this restaurant. I began my journey by applying for a job at a local Waba Grill. I wanted to start from the bottom and work my way up to the top at the same time learning every step of the way. With the hard work I had put in I began from washing dishes seven hours a day to becoming a shift manager in just one year. I spent another year there perfecting my managing skills and learning how to run and maintain a restaurant. Although two years seemed to a long time, I managed to learn the Waba Grill system from the ground up and have had experiences that would be of great help in the future. During my time there, my father was busy looking for the perfect spot to open our very own restaurant, every time it seemed we have found the one it always seemed to fall through. It took him two years as well and finally signed the lease contract for our business.
This brings us to opening day. I could still remember not getting any sleep the night before. The brief meeting I had with my father that morning when I heard him ask “are you ready?” I undoubtedly told him “yes I am” in hope that he would not notice the nervousness in me. I arrived at our restaurant early and began preparing for the big day. I still remember the face of our very first customer and the face he made when he took the first bite of his meal. He loved the food so much he still to this date comes back frequently for his meal. Later that day some corporate officers had come in to inspect our operations and quality of food. When they asked me “Can I speak to the manager” I replied to them “Yes, that is me” The shocked look they had on their face lead me to think they do not believe I was old enough to be running a restaurant. This is no way bothered me one bit because I know I have done the best I possibly could to prepare for this very moment. When they were finished with their inspection they once again had a very surprised look on their face. This one was for a different reason, they said to me that everything was in place and had exceeded company standards.
It is now 2018 and I am currently operating five Waba Grill’s with plans of a 6th restaurant by end of this year. Our restaurants have received awards for best operations 2 years in a row which is the highest honor of the company. I have since then had my brother Ismael learn the restaurant business and help me operate the restaurants. I have learned many things along the way but still strive to be better every day. The biggest lesson I have learned is with hard work, ambition and dedication there is no limit to what you can achieve. Next time you feel as if you can’t reach your goals take a step back to think of the reason why you started chasing those goals in the first place and remember to not give up until you reach them. There is no greater feeling than accomplishing the goals you set out to reach. I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting and believing in me. I would also like to thank my great employees for their hard work, none of these achievements would have been possible without their daily commitment to provide great customer service and the highest quality of food to every guest that walks through our doors.