HOOD RIVER, Ore. – Maui Meyer was a young world-class wind surfer when he came to Hood River the first time. He fell in love with the town and he hoped that someday he could retire in such a place. Meyer did come back, but he is far from retired. The Hood River businessman is working hard to keep Hood River true to the same great place he fell in love with.
“Hood River was great when I came here the first time and my goal is to help keep it great,” Meyer said. “It is a place where town and farm is a cool thing; a place that is great not because it is untouched but because it is well managed.”
From Hawaii to Hood River
Meyer, named Maui after the island of his ancestors, was born and raised in Hawaii. The youngest and only boy in a family of six sisters, he was a world-class wind surfer while still in his teens. At 21, he enrolled at Cornell University, an agriculture land grant college in upstate New York. Four years later, armed with degrees in hotel finance, food and beverage and real estate development, Meyer came back to Hood River.
“When I got out of college with no money and no job, I decided that if I was going to be broke and jobless somewhere, I might as well be broke and jobless in Hood River,” Meyer said of his obsession with the town. “That was in 1991, and by the next year, I opened the 6th Street Bistro and was in the restaurant business. It was also my good fortune that Ben Stenn wandered in looking for a job two years later. Ben was a recent New York University graduate and French-trained chef and as partners, we opened Celilo Restaurant and Bar in 2005.
Maui turned restauranteur
“Ben and I are both committed to a healthy and sustainable future and we make every effort to buy fresh naturally raised products that have been grown as close to our doorstep as possible. We also reuse or recycle all of our glass, plastic, paper, aluminum and tin, compost all our vegetable and coffee grounds and use unbleached paper sourced from consumer recycled fiber. We think each small step is important.”
A colleague weighs in
Julie Davies O’Shea, executive director of a nonprofit resource solution company for rural communities called Farmer’s Conservation Alliance, has worked with Meyers almost since she arrived in Hood River seven years ago.
“Like many of the people here, I came to Hood River as a kayaker and Maui was one of the people that gave me a job and we still work together on a lot of projects today,” O’Shea said. “Because he is an owner and/or partner in five community-related businesses and a second-term Hood River county commissioner, it is easy to see how committed he is and the sacrifices he and his family make by giving so much time to the community.
“What I don’t think people know enough about is how much he invests in young people. He has his business model and his social model and he is constantly hiring, supporting and mentoring young people through those businesses. Maui listens to people and he does so with what I call a very good ear.”
Hood River still the best place to be
Growing up in Hawaii with a father in the hospitality business, Maui has an innate ability to understand the importance of blending long-term agriculture with the hospitality and tourism industry in a place like Hood River.
“We need to fight to make sure we in Hood River determine our own future and ensure that our future here doesn’t just happen to us,” Meyer said. “We are a diverse ag and tourism-based community that cares about the regional farms, our manufacturing, our healthcare, our tourists and the people who live here. We work together and it is a wonderful place to be.
To contact Maui Meyer, call Argonaut Investments, 541-386-2330 or e-mail email@example.com.