On the Line: Justin Shea of Hapa J's, Part Two
Photo by Johannes Dewald
The self-proclaimed owner/busboy of Hapa J's in San Clemente, Justin Shea has some stories to tell. From his brother wardrobe to his high-school game days, Justin's hobbies vary more than the menu. If you didn't catch a glimpse of his son, Jaedon, be sure to review part one for a family photo that'll make you go "Awwwwwww."
When you're not in the kitchen cooking, what are you doing?
Hanging with my son, Jaedon, either playing soccer/T-ball or just taking over at Dave & Busters.
You mentioned the restaurant is named after your son. Can you explain that?
Hapa is actually a Japanese term for half-white/half-local (in this case, half-Hawaiian). My ex is from Western Oahu. We lived there about four years. She's Hawaiian, Filipino, Okinawan and a little bit of German. I'm basically Irish white boy. You'll know what hapa looks like when you see him.
When we were picking [restaurant] names, we knew we weren't doing traditional Hawaiian. Honestly, most people don't dig traditional Hawaiian. So we thought we'd modernize it; make it cool and representative of the different cultures.
Last song playing on your radio/smart phone/iPod:
Juana La Cubana -- that's the jam!
Hardest lesson you've learned:
Stay positive and quiet when facing adversity.
What's your favorite childhood memory?
In 1999, watching my childhood friend Mark Hatfield take the bell from the Newport Harbor chumps sideline after we just smoked them; we went to CDM. I hope some of you Sailors are reading this. Eat it! [Editor's Note: Coincidentally, Mark's father stopped by our table to say hi.]
Favorite Halloween costume:
My brother's Elf costume; Ryan wears it almost every other weekend. It's classic. He has a fetish for costumes. No joke! He has a closet of them. He has a SpongeBob costume. He's a character, man.
What were you up to five years ago?
Living on Westside Oahu, working for Roy's and raising the Hapa J. Just enjoying the family and way of life out there.
Are you superstitious?
When I played sports, I was. I had a routine.
Fourth of July because we are closed, and all the crew gets to hang out and enjoy the sun. We're a big family, going down to the beach in San Clemente.
Last book you read; how was it?
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. It was glorious and thought-provoking. Tim Burton is directing the movie version. I like straightforward stuff. It's political, gnarly stuff.
Last thing you looked up/searched for online:
British bulldogs on Craigslist. I'm planning on buying one.
Do you have any skills that are non-food-related?
Bocce ball. I know, technically, you're supposed to play it on grass, but we play it on the beach. It's the kind of sport you play with family or friends, like horseshoes. Usually you have a beer in your left hand, and you're throwing with your right.
What would you be doing if you weren't in this business?
Sports broadcasting, probably amateur wrestling such as the ECW [Extreme Championship Wrestling]. I don't like how all these dudes talk about sports, and they never played them.
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