Aloha, ohana take the spotlight at luau
By Elima Pangorang
The history of the traditional Hawaiian luau is rooted in togetherness, ohana and celebration. Before the turn of the 19th century the feast was called ahaaina, or meal gathering.
After the disintegration of the ancient Hawaiian kapu of men and women eating together at the table, and throughout centuries of modernization in Hawaii, the tradition of ahaaina transformed into the modern-day luau. The luau is a Hawaiian feast and is a popular activity among visitors to the islands and to kamaaina, as well.
While the name may have changed, underlying values of family and aloha remained. One popular Oahu luau epitomizes these values on and off the stage, resulting in happy customers and staff. Germaine’s Luau has placed the importance of ohana at the fore-front since the company opened in the early ’70s — and moved to its current location in Campbell Industrial Park in 1976.
“The essence of our company and the heart of it is where everyone can experience ohana. That’s the biggest thing,” shared digital marketing director Andre Mataafa-Aferos. “We are continuously trying to grow in terms of that because that’s who we are.”
While in college, Mataafa-Aferos began working for the company as a stage performer. During this period, he was able to learn the operation and branch out, leading him to his corporate position today.
“Working here while going to school helped me to grow as an individual in terms of social skills, stepping out of my box and grow in a professional capacity,” he said.
The passion to blossom and learn is apparent at Germaine’s Luau, and much of the credit goes to the company’s leaders. Chief executive officer Toby Kusaka instills righteous values into all 175 employees of the luau. “It starts from the top down. Our CEO is a great guy,” continued Mataafa-Aferos. “A lot of CEOs don’t have an open-door policy, but he does, and he is there to listen no matter who you are.”
Quality control director Teua Alvarado also explained, “Even for us as managers, Toby doesn’t just give us responsibilities — he teaches us along the way. So we are still growing even as supervisors and it transfers to the people under us.”
Mataafa-Aferos and Alvarado mentioned that there are many departments within the company from sound crew to show performers, greeters and much more. Anyone looking to apply can visit germainesluau.com/careers for more info and candidates can submit an application there, too.
Generally, ideal employees have a great sense of hospitality, friendliness, warmness, eagerness, enthusiasm and willingness, according to Alvarado. If applicants possess these traits, they are on the right path to work at Germaine’s Luau.
“Germaine’s does not only become work for them. It becomes part of who they are because they are learning to grow in themselves and as individuals,” she shared.
The luau’s hours of operation are also convenient for student schedules, and others. Since the luau starts at 5 p.m., staff often go to school in the day, and also get off early enough (about 9 or 10 p.m.) to still be able to take care of nighttime responsibilities.
Germaine’s Luau is a fun atmosphere for all. The family-operated luau has been passed on from generation to generation and even has families on staff.
“We have three generations of family members since I started more than 30 years ago,” concluded director of sales and public relations Paulette Watson. “We counted 27 families within our luau (staff). We like to think of ourselves as a traditional backyard family-style luau. It’s what we would do at our own family luaus. People get up and dance, sing or play music like one ohana.”
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PHOTOS COURTESY GERMAINE’S LUAU
COMPANY: Germaine’s Luau
LOCATION: 91-119 Olai St., Kapolei
CEO: Toby Kusaka
BENEFITS: Medical coverage (100 percent premium if qualified), 401(k), Zippy’s discount card, certain discounts on partner hotels