Tony Roma’s Finds Its Long-lost Artist
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In 1989, when Waimalu Elementary School fifth-grader Jillian Tamashiro found out she had won the Tony Roma’s art contest, there was only one way the unsuspecting winner could aptly describe her emotions.
“I felt like a little rock star,” says Tamashiro.
Initially hesitant to the idea of applying, she received encouragement from her mother, who was a first-grade teacher at the time. ”
As a kid, I had always been fond of doodling or sketching,” Tamashiro explains.
Almost 25 years later, Tamashiro now works for the Department of Health. Looking back, the contest winner appreciates how winning the contest affected her as a child.
“As a reward, my classroom received an encyclopedia set,” says Tamashiro. “As a child, it was great to feel like I had contributed something to the school.”
In addition to reading materials for the class, at the time, Tony Roma’s also invited Tamashiro’s family to the restaurant for a free meal as well as the opportunity to be featured on the diner’s place-mat for children.
“Seeing my artwork on the official Tony Roma’s placemat gave me a huge boost of confidence,” she says. “For a kid, the entire experience was priceless and had long-lasting effects.”
Such a positive self-image motivated Tamashiro to pursue art throughout school.
“I continued taking art classes when I could,” she explains. “It’s something I still love and am passionate about.”
Although the contest was discontinued after several years, Tony Roma’s continues to support families and community bonding. Currently on promotion until the end of next month, diners can enjoy Tony Roma’s famous Saint Louis Ribs Combo (two plates for $39).
“This is definitely the place to go for ribs,” says Tamashiro. “Everything on the menu is so good and appropriate for families small or large.”
1972 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu (and Pearlridge location)
Open daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.