At ezCater, we’re inspired by chefs and restaurant operators who take their passion for food and catering and turn it into a career. As a partner who helps them build their catering business, we’re proud to share their stories with you. This is Paul Wahba’s Restaurant Roots.
Born in Egypt, Paul Wahba came to America as a child and became a late-blooming admirer of the Hawaiian plate lunch. He discovered Hawaiian food by chance when he bought the Los Angeles restaurant Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe with plans to turn it into a pizza shop. But once he tried the beloved island staples, his love of Hawaiian food grew so strong that he stuck with the concept. Over the years, Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe has attracted a circle of fiercely loyal admirers. “We’ve been around for such a long time. We’ve had locals who’ve been with us since they were children and now they have children,” Paul Wahba says.
His menu specializes in plate lunch classics like golden-fried chicken katsu and teriyaki-glazed barbecue chicken. The food is so good that Paul Wahba now has a restaurant and a separate catering operation that he opened to keep up with demand. Whether you dine in at his restaurant or order catering, you might just find Paul Wahba flashing the Hawaiian thumb-and-pinkie “shaka” greeting. This is the story behind Paul Wahba’s Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe.
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Paul Wahba: The food has to be good and there has to be enough. If it’s going to feed 50 people, you want to make sure you bring enough for 60 because if people are going to like it, they’re going to have a little more.
Aloha, my name is Paul Wahba. I’m the owner of Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe and Catering in Mar Vista, California. I was born in Egypt. My parents brought me here when I was three years old.
I bought Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe. I thought it would be a great spot for a pizza joint. After learning about the food, I fell in love with the concept of Hawaiian food. Hawaii has plate lunches, which have two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and then the meat—tender, fall-off-the-bone type of meat.
We do a lot of Hawaiian barbecue chicken, katsu chicken, just good comfort food. We’ve been around for such a long time. We’ve had locals that have been with us since they were children and now they have children.
The catering biz and the cafe biz—they go hand in hand, and we do a lot of catering. I had to expand my catering kitchen to keep up with this demand.
Every day I arrive to work, I feel welcome. My customers always know me. Even my staff. Everybody is very friendly. We work as a team taking care of the customers.
Restaurant Roots. Inspiring stories celebrating chefs, restaurant operators, and catering.
Want to feed your team Hawaiian plate lunches from Paul Wahba’s Rutt’s Hawaiian Cafe?