VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Ever wish you could just wake up in Hawaii?
Well, you can! Sort of...at Ray Ray's at the Mayflower; a breakfast and lunch joint serving up traditional breakfast dishes along with some Filipino and Hawaiian favorites.
The man behind it all is longtime chef Ray Ray Labuen.
"I worked at a lot of cool places around here," said the chef of 30 years. "Duck-In, Belvedere, Doc Taylor's."
Now, he's got his own spot right on 34th Street at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, situated at the bottom of the high-rise Mayflower apartment building.
Labuen's favorite thing about owning his own restaurant?
"Making sure all the customers are happy, they're enjoying their meal and looking at their meal like, 'Wow, what is this?,'" he told News 3. "If you like breakfast and everybody's got the same breakfast around, try my place."
Popular dishes at Ray Ray's include loco moco; a Hawaiian comfort dish with white rice, hamburger patties and eggs topped with gravy. The OG Ray Ray's sandwich is another favorite.
For Ray Ray, the love of cooking for others is generational. His dad and uncles were chefs themselves.
And people in Virginia Beach love him back.
Labuen says it was locals that kept him in business when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Virginia Beach resort season hard last year.
"I've been around for so long, I have a lot of supporters out there. Just a lot of love. God is good. It's been tough," he said.
He's hoping for a turnaround this time around as vaccines becomes available to the masses. Now, like so many other businesses, Ray Ray's needs to find people to hire.
"I think it's going to be a great year, but it's just hard to find help," he said.
Ray Ray's at the Mayflower is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.