From Toys N’ Joys to the Joys of Food
In the early 80s, Alex spent every weekend helping his parents sell wares at the Aloha Stadium flea market. Swapping the swap meet for a small brick and mortar in Kaimuki, he spent 30 years perfecting his craft running operations and creating an enjoyable customer experience in his family’s business, Toys N’ Joys, until its doors closed in 2013. In search of another business opportunity, Alex decided to help his brother, Andrew, start a pop-up dinner experience in Kaka’ako. Using their mother’s Vietnamese recipes as culinary inspiration, he quickly fell in love with the endeavor and they found huge success and a loyal following at farmers’ markets. By leveraging what Alex learned in the family business, combined with his brother Andrew’s chef training, the Le brothers have converted their farmers’ market concept into two extremely popular restaurant locations in Chinatown and Kakaako.
16 Facts About Me:
1. My Name and Nicknames Are:
Alex Le. Nicknames? None that I know of, but I’m sure I have many that I don’t know about. 🙂
2. I Grew Up In:
3. The Name Of My Businesses Are:
4. My Favorite Thing About Growing Up In Hawai’i:
Where to start… the food, the weather, the people, but for me it was working at the Aloha Flea Market every weekend with my parents.
5. I Went To School At:
St. Louis School
6. When I Was A Kid, I Wanted To Be:
An owner of a VW Bug and race.
7. In High School, People Would Describe Me As:
8. My Childhood Prepared Me For My Job Today By:
Instilling in me hard work, always.
9. The Value My Business Provides Is:
You are working for a family business and this is a passion-based restaurant.
10. I Realized My Business Was Successful When:
After 1.5 years in business, we won the Silver Award for Best Oahu Restaurant in 2015.
11. My Favorite Thing About Running My Business Is:
Working with my staff hands-on and seeing them daily.
12. The Most Challenging Thing About Running My Business Is:
Trying to keep everyone happy.
13. One Mistake I’ve Made That Taught Me A Lesson Was:
The importance of quality. It’s important to stay true to your food and not take shortcuts.
14. One Accomplishment I’m Most Proud Of Is:
The Pho French Dip. This sandwich came to us as a collaboration with our guests at the farmers’ market. This sandwich put us on the map.
15. My Favorite Book Is:
Setting the Table by Danny Meyer
16. My Advice For Future Business Owners Is:
Owning your own business is great. Your hard work and effort determines how successful your business will be. Also, what is key is to be patient and very observant to guest feedback – all this is valuable information to make your business even better.
In RISEHI’s focus article on Alex, we share how he REINVENTED AND STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM in the food/restaurant business to build award-winning The Pig & the Lady with his brother, Andrew.