On the Line: Jay Styles of Wind & Sea Restaurant

To run an operation for 45 years takes a dedicated team. General Manager Jay Styles worked his way up the restaurant ranks, originally hired as a prep cook. Today, he not only oversees operations at Wind & Sea, but two other properties in Hawaii. I spend this week going beyond kitchen operations and into the mindset of someone who has to juggle both front and back of the house.

Tell me about your role as General Manager. How does it intertwine with the kitchen and dining room teams?
I am responsible for all aspects of the restaurant, from Back of the House to Front of the House. I have a kitchen manager that I interact with every day regarding purchasing, new menu items, staffing, hiring, etc.

I have managers that manage the front of the house staff, one for the servers, one for the hostesses and bussers and one for the bar staff. I interact with them in the same way. We have weekly manager meetings to discuss upcoming events and problems that have come up in the past week. The weekly specials are presented to the staff on Fridays, so they can see and taste them.

Most popular items on the menu:
Fish & Chips, Calamari, Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi-Mahi.

Most undervalued ingredient:

What position were you first hired for by the restaurant group that owns Wind & Sea?
Food prep.

Best culinary tip for the home cook wanting to cook seafood:
Cook it slow and low; don’t overcook it and dry it out.

A recent food find:
Poke bowl from Uroko in Costa Mesa.

Where was your last meal?
Carlos’ Mexican Restaurant on PCH in Dana Point. Machaca con Huevos.

Are there any anniversary specials on the menu?
We will be having Prime Rib, Turkey dinner and Filet Mignon starting the first weekend of the Boat Parade, which is December 8th.

I read you also oversee another property outside of California. Where is it?
We have two restaurants in Hawaii: The Kona Inn and the Kona Canoe Club, both in Kona on the Big Island. In the winter, I go over there once a month to help out because our partner that ran those restaurants for 38 years retired this year.

One food you can’t live without.
Mayonnaise. I love sandwiches, and I have to have mayo on my sandwiches.

When you’re not in the restaurant, what are you doing in your free time?
I am the Chair-Elect for the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce, so I have been spending a lot of time on “Chamber” work. Otherwise, I spend time with my wife shopping for boats and looking for items for our house. I also like to try new restaurants.

Favorite places to eat.
Good Choice Sushi, The Point.

Last book read or last movie watched:
Book: Killing Patton; Movie: Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton.

What’s your favorite childhood memory?
Playing baseball.

Last thing you looked up online:
A new wall oven for my house.

Favorite meal growing up.
Fried chicken.

You’re making breakfast; what are you having?
Blueberry pancakes.

Hardest lesson you’ve learned.
Admit when I’m wrong and make the proper amends.

Wind & Sea Restaurant is located at 34699 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, (949) 496-6500; www.windandsearestaurants.com.

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