Students Find Comfort In Local International Restaurant
Hungry customers visiting Kekoa Pokē Bowls & Hawaiian Foodie can expect more than just tasty food.
Patrons turn to the restaurant’s environment rather than its menu to find the establishment’s true treat: a multi-cultural experience.
Located at 8177 Glades Road #20 in West Boca Place, Kekoa has become a second home for all who work there, especially the restaurant owners David and Moses Obadia. The father and son duo emigrated from Venezuela to the U.S. in 2014 and arrived in Hollywood before finding their way to Boca Raton last year. Inspired by their mutual love for Hawaiian food, the pair opened Kekoa in March of this year.
“Hawaiian food is very close to us because it has a lot of flavors woven into it,” said Obadia, according to an article published by Sun Sentinel. “A lot of different cultures come together [and] have been accumulated over the years in the Hawaiian culture. We, as immigrants, identify with that diversity of flavors.”
Many Lynn students seem to share stories similar to the Obadia family’s story. There are about 550 international students attending Lynn, accounting for 19 percent of the student body. Many of these students left family and friends in their home country before coming to Lynn, which may seem daunting to some, but not for the likes of Molly Bryans and other international students.
“I think coming here alone without my family [and] friends and knowing no one definitely gives me an advantage in the workplace as I am more cultured and understanding of how and what it feels like to be thrown into a completely new environment,” said Bryans, an international business major in her third and final year at Lynn.
Originally from Auckland, New Zealand, Bryans spent her entire life growing up on the other side of the world before coming to Lynn. However, she quickly adjusted to life away from her friends and family, and South Florida has become her second home.
This is similar to the Obadias’ story and their time in the Hawaiian Islands, where they were able to “experience the aloha spirit firsthand, and it left a lasting impression,” said David Obadia for Sun Sentinel. The Obadias’ connection to this new culture inspired them to eventually create Kekoa.
“I think that being an international student helps a lot in both life and careers,” said Carlo Pezzana, sophomore and sports management major. “It helps you to see the world in different ways, and you come in contact with many languages and cultures.”
Born and raised in Casale Monferrato, a small town in North-West Italy, Pezzana first studied abroad in Australia. Pezzana’s time in Australia opened his mind to the possibility of going to college abroad. Like Bryans, Pezzana may have found a second home at Lynn, but he will not give up his love for Italian food.
Whether it is an international experience similar to Bryans’, Pezzana’s or the Obadia family’s or a simple craving for some delicious Hawaiian cuisine that drives patrons to Kekoa, the restaurant’s doors are open to all Monday through Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.