Top 5 trade secrets of Mama’s Fish House
Tucked in their own private cove on the North Shore of Maui, Mama’s Fish House is world-renowned for their five-star cuisine and their breathtaking ambiance. Maui is becoming a hub of world-class restaurants like The Mill House and Ka’ana Kitchen, and most regular visitors or Maui first-timers are prompted by friends to try out one of the island’s most outstanding restaurants. If you peruse Open Table or Yelp, you’ll be swept away with glowing pictures of the Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi, stuffed with lobster and crab and topped off with a house made pineapple beurre blanc.
There are rave reviews for the Polynesian Black Pearl dessert too, as it has to be one of the most photographed desserts in the history of iPhones. Yes, Mama’s Fish House is the cool kid on the block. However, there is a side that very few know about. Feast your eyes on the top five trade secrets of Mama’s Fish House.
It’s their business to know your business:
When you call to make a reservation, the receptionist will ask if you have any health risks or allergies. This information is printed on a ticket at the time of your arrival, which is then placed in the hands of your server, with your health risks or allergies highlighted. The manager then writes your name on a board in the kitchen for all the chefs and food runners to see. Pretty thorough, right? But they don’t stop there. Your server writes your risk or allergy on every order that goes to the kitchen. Once your dish is ready for service, the chef places an orchid on your plate to show that they were aware of the risk, and it tells the food runner that the flowered dish is different from the others. When your food is delivered, the food runner will inform you that your risk or allergy is absent. These extensive details are one of the behind-the-scenes reasons that Mama’s Fish House is revered for its service as much as its culinary goodness.
Many people wonder if Mama is a figment of someone’s lovely imagination or if there is a real flesh and blood woman behind this legacy. I am happy to announce that Mama is as real as sliced white bread. Doris, a bitty 78-year-old woman co-created this restaurant with Floyd, her tall and silver-locked husband, and they haven’t lost the ability to continually wow their guests daily. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of this duo dining at the bar, regaling their favorite bartender with their latest travels. Their beautifully crafted house is next door to the restaurant, so their commute to the restaurant is pretty manageable. And if you’re wondering, the woman at the helm of this successful ship is as kind as her food is delectable. You’re supporting an organization that takes very good care of their employees!
That’s a hefty number, and it belongs to the number of staff at Mama’s Fish House. From a full-time maintenance crew, to the morning-to-night receptionist that cheerfully answer the phones, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. They have a beloved florist that artistically arranges every impressive floral centerpiece. They staff about 55 staff on the floor between lunch and dinner and at least another 12 people to run food and drinks. And we haven’t even touched on their dishwashers, extensive kitchen staff, or prep team that are present every day. Needless to say, they have made valuable jobs available for quite a few worthy people.
The totem pole:
One might assume that to get a serving job at Mama’s, you’d need a pretty extraordinary resume. However, they have an uncommon system that effectively establishes who is a right fit for this find dining restaurant. While restaurant experience helps, every single new hire starts at the same place, as a glorified dish washer. The length of time that you stay here will depend on your self-motivation, attitude and dependability. Once you graduate from this station, you’re prepped to run the amuse bouche, which is a complimentary bisque and homemade honey whole wheat poppy-seed bread. After a spell here (weeks or even months sometimes), you then are trained to run desserts and appetizers. You can move on to entrees if you’ve shown a true knowledge of the intricately detailed dishes. After that, you’re trained to be a barista, a drink runner, and possibly the overseer of all the food runners. Once this is all accomplished, you’re put on the floor as a back server, which supports the front server that spends the most time at your table. If all of these steps have been successfully accomplished, then you have the possibility to become a front server. While this seems tedious and extensive to some, their system weeds out those that don’t feel like paying their dues to work at this exemplary establishment. The next time you dine at Mama’s, let this realization register as you are served by all those different smiling faces. From the management down, they’ve all earned their keep!
The food plays second string:
You might not realize how important aloha is to this restaurant, but it’s actually the most important thing they serve. Yes, they have the 5 star view, the impeccable menu and the devastatingly delicious drinks. However, their aloha makes them sparkle. The staff gathers together for a meeting before every lunch or dinner shift, and one of the managers addresses the group. Motivational manager Dave Baker tends to be a staff favorite, as his devotion to his staff creates a happy buzz around their impending job at hand. Each employee is beckoned to start their shift with a positive attitude and each guest benefits from this enthusiasm. You may be able to find delicious food at a handful of places, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a fine dining restaurant that makes you feel like family.
This insiders scoop isn’t common knowledge, and I didn’t obtain it from a common place. I was a part of their team and was able to step behind the curtain to see all the finer details. I was continually awestruck at how a staff so big and a reservation line so long could seamlessly flow through lunch and dinner service. I am proud to call the staff at Mama’s Fish House family, regardless of the paths our lives take. May you be fortunate enough to experience the all that they have to offer!