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Tony Roma’s Artist Found After 25 Years

By Dining Out Team Photos By Tony Grillo
March 24, 2013

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In May 1988 when Pearl Ridge Elementary School teacher Mrs. Kohara announced to her sixth grade class everyone would be entering Tony Roma’s statewide drawing contest, one shy but bright student reluctantly obliged.

“I never liked to draw,” explains Dawn Tsue.

One month later, the restaurant chose her delightful rendition of its menu as the winner and little Dawn won a set of brand new encyclopedias.

Twenty-five years later, management at Tony Roma’s set out to track down and reconnect with Tsue.

When they did, they discovered she was now a wife and proud mother of two young children. Nevertheless, Tsue remains the same humble, reserved person she was as a student.

“I still don’t like to draw, but the contest is a nice memory to have,” says Tsue. “My kids think it’s pretty cool.”

Tony Roma’s may not be an art school, but the restaurant does encourage diners to appreciate the arts, education and community while also promoting a family-friendly atmosphere.

“It has been great to witness all the support that has come from one contest winner,” says Lennon de Leon, general manager of Tony Roma’s. “We definitely want to start the contests up again one day soon.”

Although the contest may now be long behind her, Tsue is sure her relationship with Tony Roma’s will continue to thrive.

“I like coming here because the food is great, especially the baby back ribs,” says Tsue. “My husband and I recently came here for our anniversary, and our kids love the food as well.”

Tony Roma’s hopes to continue its search for four more art contest winners from previous years. In the meantime, those with a penchant for art should keep up the good work. Tony Roma’s could be coming to a school near you.

Tony Roma’s

98-150 Kaonohi St., Aiea
487-9911
Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.