A surf board hangs above the manager's office in the recently-opened Jimmy Hula’s restaurant in Granada Plaza. It’s one of many among the restaurant’s surf-shack décor.
Manager/owner Jose Cifuentes grew up surfing at the nearby Granada beach approach, and now he’s bringing some surfer culture to the area with the franchise along with his wife, Vanessa. The grand opening was Jan. 2.
The casual and fun eatery, located at 191 E. Granada Blvd., has unique features such as a garage door entrance and actual car seats in the booths. There’s both patio and inside dining.
Cifuentes calls the menu a fusion of California and Hawaiian cooking. Offerings include fish tacos, with surf-lingo names such as “epic” and “baja.” Turf tacos, the restaurant’s spin on tacos, include “wipeout” and “pipeline pork.” There’s also a variety of burgers, sandwiches, salads, bowls and a kids’ menu.
A PASSION FOR THE BUSINESS
“I’m in deployment mode.”
JOSE CIFUENTES, military veteran, on opening a new restaurant
While attending Seabreeze High School, Cifuentes developed a passion for the restaurant business working at Luigi’s Cafe in Daytona Beach.
“I was inspired by the owner, Terry Chmiel,” Cifuentes said. “I admired his work ethic.”
After graduating from high school in 1994, he worked as a cook at Lovici’s in Ormond-by-the-Sea. He joined the Air Force and served 17 years, but always wanted to open a restaurant someday.
“It’s been my lifelong dream to do this,” he said.
He met his wife, Vanessa, in the Air Force, and when their military careers ended, they decided to fulfill his dream. Over the past couple of years, Cifuentes has attended culinary school at Daytona State University while his wife took hospitality management. He said he only needs one course to get his degree.
“It’s a great school,” he said. The chefs are unbelievable — very experienced.”
Like others starting a business, the couple have found it to be a lot of work.
“I’m in deployment mode,” Cifuentes said with a smile. “You prepare yourself mentally and physically for the long hours. Some people say I’m crazy but I’m passionate about it. This is my new home.”
His “new home” is near the beach where he surfed as a youth, which has long been a popular surfing area.
They have big plans for the future. They plan to open a Pita Pit restaurant in DeLand next year and four more Jimmy Hula’s in Volusia County in the next five years.
Find them on Facebook at Jimmy Hula’s Ormond Beach.