Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill
1010 La Isla Plaza
Pale San Vitores Rd.
|Hours: Thursday to Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.*
*hours adjusted due to outbreak
By Rianne Peredo
Tumon Bay Lobster & Grill is a family-owned restaurant that has been in business on Guam for more than 20 years.
Because of its prime location in the heart of Tumon, the restaurant’s customer base typically consists of tourists. However, there are also local customers who frequently dine-in and also reserve the 3,600-square-foot outdoor space or 1,600-square-foot indoor dining area for private events.umon Bay Lobster & Grill is a family-owned restaurant that has been in business on Guam for more than 20 years.
The restaurant hosts birthdays, anniversaries and more; with a stage for musicians to perform live beneath the lights strung along the awnings of the stage and patio.
Although the restaurant is known for seafood and steaks, husband and wife Owners Jae L. Yu and Niko Yu have adapted to changing customer tastes and preferences by revamping the restaurant’s menu and incorporating microgreens from its sister company, Marianas Homegrown Habitat, in some dishes.
How would you describe the restaurant to someone who hasn’t visited it before?
Jae L. Yu: I do want them to know how much of an open space we have [with] an outdoor patio; very pleasant. You don’t really need to think hard to dress up or anything like that. We do have different varieties of food that are as low as $10/$12 dinners and we also have nice seafood boils. It depends on what you want. You don’t have to think about it like, “Oh I’m going to Tumon. I gotta spend $200.” You can actually come here and spend not even $20 and have a nice meal with a drink. I want people to come down and just try out [the food]. I feel like they’ll be really comfortable with the dining area that they are in. Hopefully they’ll give me the opportunity to serve them.
What are the most popular dishes that customers order at the restaurant?
Yu: Crab legs, steak and we have some great appetizers — chicken wings and different types of chesa and … lobster tails.
I think a lot of people are not so comfortable coming out [now]. So, we have a good deal on a barbecue plate going on too; very island-style with red rice, chicken kelaguen, spareribs and kalbi — stuff like that.
What lessons have you learned while operating the restaurant?
Yu: So [based on] previous experience that I have owning a business, I need to be very patient — whether the business is good or bad — and I need to be very consistent. I think knowing our customers is the most important part. Because after all, you can go anywhere [and] get a steak. You can get a lobster; you can get chicken wings.
I always tell my staff that what’s really important is recognizing what the customer wants; every little detail. So, I love having the regular customers come in because our staff know what their favorite drinks are and how they like their sides — if they want to substitute them with something else. I think all those are some things that I have learned over time because we have a lot of choices now compared to 20 or 30 years ago.
I feel like as a business owner — and as an employee that serves the customer — you have to understand what customer needs are and be very patient in trying to figure it out and just do your best. Then they will be back. And that’s the only way we can really last long in any industry because local support is very important.
|Photos courtesy of Tumon Bay Lobster and Grill|
How many employees do you have?
Yu: I have about 30 employees. Most of our chefs — actually, almost all of our chefs — are from [Guam Community College]. I am in support of hiring local talent. Before they even graduate, I actually venture out there and pick some of them.
I got some assistance from a GCC professor in creating a menu and in return, he has sent me a couple of interns — they do an internship program and they get credit for it. I think I picked quite a few people out of there.
Do you think there are differences between the food and beverage industry in Guam and other places?
Yu: If you asked me that question 15 or 20 years ago, I’d say, “Oh, yeah, because there’s more selection [in other places] and all that.” But as time goes by, I do feel like Guam definitely has a great selection in restaurants. A lot of visitors that come to Guam — and I talk to them — they say so many good things about the varieties of the international cuisine that they get to taste. That’s probably one of the reasons why our restaurants use microgreens; we can bring our restaurant up to the next level. I do feel like we really are up to par.
Sometimes we’ll get a problem with having produce on time. It depends on the wholesale side [or] vendor side. If they have a problem with their container or the shipping, then we kind of get stuck, because everyone gets from the same vendors. That would be the only downfall; then everyone has to go to the market to buy during the weekend. But other than that, I feel like Guam is becoming to have really high standards.
What challenges have you encountered as a business owner?
Yu: First of all, my restaurant is just really big. I always have to challenge myself to attract some nice groups of customers, not just individual walk-ins. That’s probably one of the reasons why I always work with tourism groups that offer some deals where they can bring a tour package to our customers. It’s worked in the past really well, because not many restaurants other than hotels are as big as this one.
Of course, when restaurants are this big, people expect a good menu, good service. I need to constantly update myself with the menu and make sure things are very fresh. I just have to be on top of it, be on top of everything and training employees so they’re up to par.
I must say, it’s getting a little easier because now there’s online marketing; young people are pretty good at that.