Aaron Langhoff and Marlene Akana Hall
I’m featuring two hoku lele (rising stars) as my Profile guests this month…..both are successful young Hawaiian Islanders who make spreading Aloha a top priority in their respective business endeavors as well as in their personal lives…….
To look at my first November Profile person, you might not guess that he is a Hawaiian Islander, let alone an ethnic Hawaiian….tall and handsome, he “walks like” and “talks like” a haole! In fact a few months ago, he walked up to a booth at a Hawaiian cultural event in San Francisco , CA where people were being solicited to sign up on an ethnic Hawaiian registry. The person at the booth looked at him and asked rather rudely “What do YOU want?” obviously thinking my Profile guest was not a Hawaiian….that display of non-Aloha was particularly sad because they don’t make anyone more Hawaiian than my young Profile guest.
His name is Aaron Langhoff……Aaron is actually a Maui boy, having been born in Kahului, Maui but he grew up in the Kaneohe area on Oahu and graduated from Punahou School in 1995. Aaron’s Mom Rosie is Hawaiian/Chinese, a member of the Watson family from Kahalu`u, Oahu; Aaron’s step Dad Rolf Christ is German. Aaron came to Seattle to attend the University of Washington , graduating in 1999. What makes Aaron Langhoff special? Pretty simple: at his very young age of twenty-eight, Aaron has already been responsible for spreading our Hawaiian culture and Aloha to more people in the State of Washington than most of us combined! We are talking about thousands of people over the past five years…an absolutely awesome accomplishment!
Aaron reaches people in two primary ways. One is through his day-to-day job at the Hawaii General Store (HGS) in Seattle, where he and fellow staffer Ki`apu Wolfe are meeting, greeting, assisting, advising, spreading Aloha, and even selling a few things to hundreds of Hawaiian Islanders and Hawaiian-at-heart customers every week. But he spreads Aloha to even more people in his other job as Namele.com, Hawaiian entertainment producer. On an average of twice a year, Namele.com has presented the greatest ambassadors of Aloha to Seattle audiences through concerts at the beautiful and prestigious Benaroya Concert Hall. Guest stars have included some of Hawaii ’s best, like the Brothers Cazimero, the Makaha Sons, Alea, Aunty Genoa Keawe, Amy Hanaialii, Raiatea Helm, Robi Kahakalau, Na Palapalai and most recently Hawaiian comedians Augie T, Kermet Apio and Shawn Felipe. After each of Aaron’s concerts, hundreds in the audience leave filled with smiles on their faces and Aloha in their hearts! It may seem like a glamorous job, meeting and mingling with all these “stars”but it’s risky financially and the logistics (air/ground transportation; food; hotel accommodations, etc) can be frustrating. The best news is that Aaron Langhoff/Namele.com plans to continue top bring the music and entertainers of our Hawaiian culture to Seattle for many years to come…In fact, you can catch Aaron’s/Namele.com’s next concert featuring the Brothers Cazimero at the Benaroya Hall on November 18, 2005……
My second November Profile guest was born in California but grew up in the “old” Ewa Beach area, graduating from Campbell HS. Meet MARLENE AKANA HALL! Eleven years ago, Marlene and her husband Gabriel “Tomas” Ramirez moved to Seattle and opened up a little eatery called “Gordito’s” on 85 th Street in the Greenwood , WA area which they have developed into one of Seattle ’s most popular Mexican restaurants. “Gordito’s” has also become known as the place Hawaiians go to enjoy the healthiest Mexican cuisine in the Seattle area (all fresh ingredients, no oil used in their cooking process.) Hawaiian entertainer Sean Naau`ao calls Gordito’s his favorite eatery around Seattle. “Gordito’s” has done so well that Marlene and Tomas have expanded their operations to include a “Taco Truck” (like the plate lunch trucks in Hawaii ) that serves customers in the Ballard area. Marlene and Thomas have just opened a cute, small place they call “Kamalani’s” at the corner of Queen Anne Ave/West Galer ST on top of Queen Anne Hill in Seattle! Go there on a Friday and try their Hawaiian special Luau plate….for five bucks, you get the best plate lunch (kalua pig/chicken long rice/mac salad/lomi salmon/rice) in town! Also, “Kamalani’s” has the best/most exotic shave ice east of Haleiwa! Currently, Marlene and Tomas are renovating the building next door to “Kamalani’s” where they will have a grand opening in January 2006 of “Gordito’s on Queen Anne.” They plan to invite Sean Naau`ao to join them for the Grand Opening! Plans are for Kumu Hula Kathy Deguair to have a hula studio on the second floor of the building. For others who may be interested, several office spaces will also be available for lease. Marlene and Kathy Deguair have been friends since working together at the Bank of Hawaii years ago; Marlene is still taking hula lessons from Kathy. Another long time friend is Boy Chun Fook, who was Marlene’s outrigger canoe coach at Campbell HS way back when. Marlene traces her Akana heritage back to the Big Island . Husband Tomas is from Jalisco , Mexico (his nephew Alfredo, also from Jalisco is one of the “Chefs” at the Kona Kitchen; Alfredo’s wife Rosie runs “Kamalani’s” when Marlene is not there.) “Kamalani’s” is named after Marlene’s 4 year old daughter Lucy Kamalani; Marlene also has an 18 year old son named Shannon . Marlene is very proud of her Hawaiian heritage and is constantly involved in or just helping out at Hawaiian community activities in the Seattle/Tacoma area…her motto: “work hard and the rewards will be there!”
Mahalo to Aaron Langhoff and Marlene Akana Hall…..for all that you’ve done and continue to do on behalf of our Hawaiian culture…..
Until next time, be kind to each other…me ke Aloha pumehana………………….Danny
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