Wailea Village has announced a 5,000 sq-ft. family-friendly, casual restaurant slated to open in November 2020 focusing on seasonal and sustainable harvests including local seafood, prime meats, and daily fresh produce.

Hawai‘i-born Chef Troy Guard is returning home to Hawai‘i to open the new ocean view restaurant, ‘Opihi. ‘Opihi symbolizes the importance of ʻohana as ‘opihi are often found in clusters, a representation of tight-knit families. It is also a term of endearment referring to the bond keiki have with their parents similar to the intense way ‘opihi cling to rocks.

Naming the restaurant ‘Opihi also honors the limpet and brings awareness to its plight of decreasing population due to over harvesting. ‘Opihi restaurant will be supporting the ‘Opihi Rest Areas initiative by Kipahulu Ohana’s “Malama I Ke Kai” program through various fundraisers leading up to and following the opening. The program’s tagline “more ‘opihi make more ‘opihi” conveys the importance of conservation to help the ‘opihi thrive.

‘Opihi will not be a menu item at the restaurant, but educational information about the ‘opihi, its meaning and its conservation will be provided to guests.

“Some of my favorite childhood memories are picking ‘opihi with my dad, uncles and cousins for family occasions,” says Guard. While harvesting ‘opihi was a special excursion, countless weekends were spent on other favorite local pastimes. “My dad was known around the island for his barbecues – the more the merrier – and would take the catch of the day or a pig from our neighbor, and cook it in the backyard all afternoon while people gathered around to talk story.”

Guard’s homecoming to the Hawaiian Islands is more than just returning to his birthplace, it’s also a nod to where he honed the skills that created his professional success. Troy declares Roy Yamaguchi to be his mentor and muse. “Without having any experience, Roy took a chance on me. He believed in me more than I did and helped me grow.” Guard started as a dishwasher at the age of 14, working every single position from kitchen porter, commis chef, and line cook to a sous chef at Kahana Bar and Grill on Maui.  Under Yamaguchi’s tutelage and confidence, Guard traveled to Asia, opening multiple outposts over eight years in Hong Kong and Tokyo before landing in New York.

Two decades after he left Hawai‘i, the fruits of Guard’s hard work and commitment is evident.  He’s been named one of the “Great Regional Chefs of America” by the James Beard Foundation, and “Best Chefs America” by a peer reviewed publication of the same name. He is the founder and owner of TAG Restaurant Group, comprising of 13 restaurants throughout the domestic U.S. representing eight concepts from a bubbly breakfast joint HashTAG, quick-casual Bubu, modern steakhouse Guard and Grace, and everything in between. While the concepts vary wildly, evidence of Guard’s Hawai‘i roots are creatively woven into the menus in each of his restaurants, a premonition to his eventual return home to Hawai‘i.

Being a member of the seventh generation of a family born in Hawai‘i, Guard is proud of his heritage, and he is looking forward to making new memories with the community through thoughtful partnerships. “I wanted the restaurant name to have a personal meaning, and also stand for something important. My wife and I want to make sure we appreciate the culture correctly and respectfully by sharing knowledge about the state of ‘opihi now, and what we can do to keep it thriving.”

‘Opihi restaurant will be located on the second floor at Wailea Village – emphasizing local, creative and artful offerings with most of its shops being locally-owned and parking is free.

Follow @waileavillage on Facebook, Instagram, located at 100 Wailea Ike, Wailea. Visit the website at http://www.thewaileavillage.com.

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