CRESTVIEW — Aromas of teriyaki and garlic rub chicken fill the air when you enter Pounders Hawaiian Grill in the Winn-Dixie Plaza on North Ferdon Boulevard.
The restaurant is the brainchild of 2003 Crestview High graduate Kakela Peters and his wife, Skylar. The couple co-owns the new restaurant, which is a family affair.
We will get to that later. First, here is how it all began.
LEARNING THE BUSINESS
Kakela Peters moved to Logan, Utah, when he was 22 and attended Utah State, where he majored in business. While there, he worked as a cook for a restaurant also named Pounders. After that restaurant closed, he worked at a Hawaiian restaurant where he was the general manager for four years.
“I learned a lot about the restaurant business as general manager and finished my degree at Utah State, which ended up being in interdisciplinary studies.” Kakela said.
He married Skylar in 2012 and the couple soon had a son; they also have a 14-month-old daughter.
The family moved to Crestview in February of 2015 and, inspired by the first restaurant that Kakela worked at in Utah, started serving food from a Pounders Hawaiian Grill food truck.
That’s where the family affair comes in.
‘GRANDPA BELIEVED IN ME’
Returning to Crestview marked a return to Kakela’s roots. His father was Hawaiian and his mother was raised in Crestview.
When the idea to open a food truck arose, Kakela said he had his family’s support.
“My grandparents helped raise me here in Crestview and my grandpa believed in me and my idea from the start,” Kakela said. “My grandpa initially loaned us the money to start the food truck. He loved the food! Unfortunately, he passed away about six months ago.”
Word of mouth boosted the little food truck that could’s popularity, and soon the Peterses made another decision: to open a restaurant.
A SWELLING STAFF
Pounders’ menu includes four meats and three plate sizes. Meats include teriyaki chicken, teriyaki steak, garlic rub chicken and Kalua Pig, which is pork. Plate sizes include a one-meat dish called the Small Kine, the two-meat Regular or the three-meat choice called the Pounders, along with sides of rice and macaroni or green salad.
“The key ingredient is Aloha Soy Sauce, which has to be specially ordered,” Kakela said.
With the restaurant, the logo for which Kakela’s sister designed, Pounders’ staff rose from six to 18.
“The first day we opened we were just going to take it slow and train our employees. However, business was so good that day that we had a line out the door,” Kakela said.
So, what’s next for the restaurant?
“Eventually we will have catering, but for now business is great.” Peters said.