Ed Kenney & Dave Caldiero
Town Hospitality Group
“We don’t judge our success solely by how much money we make or the bottom line of profit – we look at what we do for our community, the social aspects of our business, and how we give back to the planet that provides us with the food we eat and a place to live.”
About the Entrepreneur
After completing the renowned program at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and training in some of Honolulu’s top restaurants, Ed Kenney proceeded to open Town restaurant in 2005, Downtown restaurant in 2007, and (along with business partner Dave Caldiero) Kaimuki Superette in 2014. His restaurants are lively gathering places guided by the mantra, “Local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always,” and have received accolades in local and national press. Ed sits on the board of MA’O Organic Farms, Kokua Hawaii Foundation, and Sustain Hawaii. He is also on the advisory board for Hogan Entrepreneurs, the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapi‘olani Community College, and the Culinary Program at Leeward Community College.
More with Ed & Dave
What is your key to success in maintaining a restaurant business?
Ed: We’re lucky; people eat and will spend money on food. What really helps is that we have this mission to reconnect people to the food they eat and those they eat with. We operate little neighborhood restaurants that are committed to our community and to our farmers. People gravitate to that. In 2008 and 2009 in the heat of the recession when restaurants were closing left and right, we continued to grow. Frequently I say that a local, community-driven food system is recession proof, and we are proof to that.
Dave: I think that from a business perspective, for sure, that is the answer. Personally, I think we strive hard for balance in our lives and that might separate us from other restaurants, as we’re still able to enjoy what Hawaii is about and not just be a slave to the stove.
Ed: I got an e-mail from a customer a while back that said, 'Ed, I not only feel good eating at Town; I feel good about eating at Town.' So what I think that says is that if people are going to spend money, they want to spend money where they know it’s going back into the local economy, going to local farmers -- it’s creating local jobs.
What's the most important thing you look for when choosing a bank?
Ed: We initially chose Hawaii National Bank because they were right across the street, they had a drop box outside, and they seemed nice enough. But that was 10 years ago, and in those 10 years, they have become a key part of this “Town Tribe” that we talk about. I walk in and there’s Keith and Carole and LaReina and Vivian, and it’s always the same smile you’re greeted with. When it came time to scale our operations and grow, they were the first people we went to.
They were the ones that put together a financing package with the help of the Small Business Administration that not only addressed acquisition, but also improvement dollars. We have also shifted all of our merchant service transactions over to them as they were able to find us a better rate than we could find with any other service. They think ahead – Keith Shimomura, the branch manager, came to me and asked me, “Is there a time where you feel financially strapped? Do you ever think you’re going to need more money? How about a line of credit?” It’s something I hadn’t even thought about. So Hawaii National Bank helped me fill out some paperwork, which I hate doing, and the next thing you know, we have a reserve line of credit that we can tap into. There’s a lot more to our business-bank relationship now than proximity.
“One of the things that someone taught me early on was to put everything aside and use your heart and soul. I think people taste that at Town.”