“Ohana means family in Hawaiian and that is what all our customers are,” said Masa Fonoimoana. “We share traditional home cooked Hawaiian dishes to kids here at school, people who have moved here from the islands because they miss their food from home.”
Fonoimoana and her family are surprised to find so many Polynesians living in the Springville area. She moved to Utah about ten years ago and started cooking for friends.
“We cooked for luaus and beach parties from home when we lived on the North Shore of Oahu. When we moved here a lot of people remembered my cooking and were always asking me to cook for them,” she said. “But things are different here in Utah and we had to find a commissary kitchen. It is a family business and we like to work together and share our culture with our neighbors.”
Kasey Fonoimoana, 13, is one of the family members who helps out at the restaurant. She answers the phone, takes orders and runs the cash register but leaves the cooking to her mother and other family members.
The Ohana Grill opened this summer at the north end of Springville. When Fonoimoana heard through a friend that a small takeout restaurant with a few picnic tables in front was available, she contacted the owner.
“I didn’t know how it would be to open our Ohana Grill in Springville but everyone has been so nice here. A few weeks ago a Springville family came in because their kids love the movie ‘Lilo and Stitch’. The girls were dressed up in grass skirts and they were so cute. A lot of people have seen we are here and stopped by. We have the local police and fire department people come in and construction workers working in the area love our food.”
One of the customers who stops by almost daily is Shennan Toelupe. Originally from the North Shore of Oahu, Toelupe came by even before the grill was officially open.
“I grew up near Auntie Masa and I knew what a good cook she was,” said Toelupe. “The first week I was here every day since I live just up the street. It’s a dangerous restaurant to have so close to me. The Teriyaki beef is the same way as when we were growing up — maybe even a little better. It’s authentic Hawaiian food. They know exactly what they are doing. I love their almond cookies and of course the Otai mango-pineapple drink is really delicious.”
Ohana grill serves a variety of daily specials. On Friday they featured garlic shrimp and butter, garlic mahi-mahi. Watermelon and mango-pineapple are grated to create Otai, a traditional refreshing drink that dates back to the 1890s.
On Saturday mornings the restaurant is busy filling island-style breakfast orders.
“We have the best island breakfast. We have banana pancakes with coconut sauce and macadamia nuts, Spam and eggs, Portuguese sausage and of course Loco Moco. Last week we catered at the East Bay Golf Course and I taught the Provo Mayor how to make Loco Moco. First you have a layer of rice, then hamburger steak, then two eggs over easy, a layer of grilled onions and smother it all in brown gravy — that’s Loco Moco.”
Ohana Grill is open Tuesday through Saturday, opening at 11 a.m. On Friday and Saturday evenings they are open until 9 p.m. To place an order, call (801) 427-4677 or just stop by at 1445 N. Main Street in Springville for some Hawaiian food cooked by Auntie Masa. After one visit, you will be Ohana.