Phil Sciortino owns SHAKA in Pier Village, on the ocean in Long Branch, NJ. Phil inspires me because he is able to balance his love for surfing with his business, and I recently emailed him to ask how he got started with SHAKA. Here’s what he had to say…
Started surfing on Jersey shore at age 12. Live a very active healthy lifestyle….
During a surfing vacation to Hawaii (one of my dreams) in 2006 I was totally overcome by the “ALOHA SPIRIT” and wanted to bring some of it home to Long Branch, N.J.
On the NORTH SHORE of OAHU there are a bunch of famous SHAVE ICE places and I thought “this would be so cool at the surfing beach in North end Long Branch”…. So I did my homework when I returned home and researched mobile ice shavers and push carts….
I wanted to use the SHAKA sign (“hang loose” hand gesture the Hawaiians would give to each other when paddling out in the morning!) in the name/ logo….so I was drawing out logo art and it hit me- SHAKA SHAVED ICE!
That’s how SHAKA started! I told my best friend Lance Redaelli- one of my current partners- and he said “lets do it”! So we did! We opened May 2007 on the beach front in Long Branch with a battery operated push cart with a shaver on top that we rolled down the street everyday in the summer.
BUT- I wanted it to be different! I did NOT want to get out of the water and see my business’ cups and spoons all over the beach! If so I wanted them to be ECO FRIENDLY- so we only used cups, spoons and straws that were made from corn and were biodegradable.(they would sometimes melt away in the hot sun! so we knew it was the right thing to do) We paid SO much more for that BUT we said we cared about the environment and WE WERE PROVING IT! I believe consumers come back because of that too!
So long story short. One day out there during a busy weekend a local restaurateur Kirk Ruoff drove by- saw us with our Hawaiian flag flying- our SHAKA banner waving- the line down the street…. and said “wow- you guys really have something here; the name, the logo, the vibe…we should build a whole restaurant around this SHAKA theme- healthy, eco-friendly surfer food! with the shaved ice dessert….and we said “OH YEA!!!”
So SHAKA Big Island Burrito & Hawaiian Shaved Ice was born! We opened at PIER VILLAGE on the beach in Long Branch, N.J. in 2009.
Phil, you are livin’ the dream man!. I can’t wait to visit one day, and to knock back some shaved ice and wolf down one of those burritos with you after a morning of surfing.