This month we catch up with Joey as he recaps memories from St. John’s, his passion for culinary arts and future plans for his latest endeavor, Konjoe Burger in San Jose, CA.
College: Santa Clara University
B.A. Marketing / MBA
Did you imagine yourself accomplishing this much when you were a Knight?
I had always hoped to one day open a restaurant. I wasn’t sure when it would happen but hoped that it would be before I turned 30.
What led you to choose these degrees and how did you discover your interest in becoming a chef?
I have a degree in Marketing, a Certificate in Advanced Accounting Proficiency and an MBA. I chose these paths because I felt that each field was needed for me to be successful. The end-game has always been to open a restaurant and I kept this in mind when figuring out what I wanted to study. When I entered the MBA program, I chose to do a general MBA with no concentration so that I could take classes that could add to my knowledge and give me the skill- set I needed to open a business.
What can you tell us about your latest endeavor, Konjoe Burger Bar?
Konjoe Burger Bar is a little burger stand in San Pedro Square Market in downtown San Jose. The restaurant concept came about during our initial conversations with the developer. They were looking for someone to open up a Burger shop. Coming from Guam, I was exposed to a lot of different Asian cuisines and I wanted to showcase this in burgers and so we came up with the concept of serving Asian inspired burgers. The name Konjoe was derived from the Japanese word “Konjo” which means “having guts” or “will-power”. I think it is a characteristic that is needed to be a successful restaurant and business owner.
What experience from St. John’s do you treasure the most?
I think that the experience that I value the most was playing volleyball. Prior to that, I had played golf my entire life and golf is a single player game. Volleyball helped me learn to work well in a team environment and that skill has translated to the restaurant. It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork to make a kitchen function properly and I can attribute some of our success to playing volleyball in high school.
If you could name one thing about your St. John’s education that has helped you the most in your college and after college years, what would it be?
All the late nights doing homework made college much easier for me. The school really helped me build a good work ethic and I believe it also helped with the success of Konjoe.