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Last Update: Thursday September 23, 2021

Wahoo! You can learn from some of the best!

Just another restaurant concept? Hardly.


California, Hawaii, Colorado: This restaurant reflects the heart and soul of the fellows who started it.  It is not a concept.  It is their life.  Meet surfers who are building a chain of surfer food joints, Wahoo's Fish Taco. They started from nothing and now have over 40 highly-successful restaurants.

This is not just another restaurant concept.  This is a passion and a crusade.

They are loved by their communities and respected by their industry. Wherever they go, they have an instant family, an immediate bond with anyone who owns a surfboard, skateboard or snowboard.  Brothers Wing Lam Lee, Ed Lee and Mingo Lee launched the business in 1988.  They adopted a fourth partner as a brother, Steve Karfaridis, a Greek immigrant who managed five-star restaurants in his homeland. He's the systems guru.

Follow the insights of these people and you and your business will prosper.

There's something truly special happening here. The founders are immigrants from Brazil, whose parents are from China.   New Americans continue to introduce new insights and fresh ideas. A beacon to creative people around the world, this country is a place to actualize dreams; and in this television show, you meet four new Americans who are changing the look of restaurants around the country.

In Southern California we find some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, but inside Wahoo's, it's different. It's noisy. It's friendly. It's chaotic. But the food is delicious. And, it's healthy. Though each place feels like a one of a kind, there are a lot of similarities within all of them. Here it feels like the people in charge are just doing this for the fun of it and the customers and staff blend in some sort of free-form dance. This is the new America. More like the Wild West. More intimate. More tribal . . . it is where people really know your name. These people do not want the pristine and predictable, they want a little Baja and the romance of an endless summer.

Meet the boarding tribe.

The restaurant industry is the nation's largest private-sector employer, providing jobs for 11.3 million individuals. About 78% of us get our first job and learn a little about the nature of work in a restaurant. But Wahoo's is no Burger King. Here you'll see lines out the door and surfers just up from the beach. 

Be Your Market - Become a Tribe!

1:31 | Play Now | The founders of Wahoo's love to surf, and they make food they love to eat.  They figured that plenty of surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders would want to eat what they make.     More...

Do What You Know

1:44 | Play Now | Wing Lee was taught how to cook by his parents who own a Chinese restaurant.    More...

Refine A Trend

1:41 | Play Now | In the past 30 years this country has been obsessed with nutrition, health, diets and high performance foods.  Surfers want healthy food and Wahoo's serves it up.

Turn Tradition Upside Down

4:14 | Play Now | The three brothers who founded Wahoo's agreed that the baby should be the CEO.  Meet Mingo Lee who gets to tell his older siblings what to do.   More...

Give it Away; Don't Discount

2:33 | Play Now | Launching a business with zero marketing budget forced Wing to be creative.

Think - The First Shall Be Last

2:24 | Play Now | Steve Karfaridis, the fourth owner, says they have built a flat organization chart. 

Grow Your Own Leadership

1:45 | Play Now | Felicia Sorboni started at the bottom and is now general manager in La Jolla.

Find Fun Ways To Measure Success

3:13 | Play Now | To grow you must set standards then measure to insure that quality is delivered. 

Measure the Right Things

1:06 | Play Now | At Wahoo's learning a customer's name is more important selling extras.

Create Chaos Out of Order

1:40 | Play Now | Ed Lee makes sure that this franchise doesn't look like one.

Pay Your Debts Cheerfully

2:22 | Play Now |Wing Lam and his brothers were happy to pay back their parents for a startup loan.

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