Operations manager, Haagen-Dazs
Vice president, Napu Restaurant
Education: John F. Kennedy High School
By Marissa Borja
For those who can survive in the fast-paced, highly demanding food and beverage game, the menu is limitless. And 46-year-old Ruben Dulos Mortera has proven he’s got the chops to succeed after spending more than three decades in the business.
Mortera is operations manager of Häagen-Dazs shops in Guam and is also known for being associated with his wife’s island-inspired comfort food establishment, Napu Restaurant in Tamuning.
Enjoying the sweeter end of the industry these days is a stark contrast to his beginnings. Mortera’s first taste of the F&B life found him doing the dirty work as a dishwasher at the original Sakura Restaurant.
But it wasn’t long until he met his inspirer at Issin Restaurant.
“Chef Jimmy was my first real mentor in the kitchen, who took me under his wing at the very young age of 17,” Mortera says. “He was really patient with a young fireball like me.”
This burning desire to stick with the F&B grind has resulted in a career that spans experience as a chef to being a member of the management teams of the most reputable hotels and restaurants on Guam including the Pacific Star Hotel and Spa and the Hyatt Regency Guam.
Japanese cuisine, fine dining and being on the opening teams for House of Brutus and Colors Red restaurant — these are just slices of his extensive career. Other endeavors include working for Topsy distributing beer, wine and spirits.
“At Topsy is where I learned how to do promotions with hotels and restaurants,” Mortera says. “I learned full aspects of wine and spirits tastings, selling, training — and I also got trained in Cigar World with Don Tomas.”
Luckily for Mortera, his tenacity took him around the world, traveling to places like France, Napa Valley, and Taiwan.
But his appetite for serving Guam has always been the priority. A graduate of John F. Kennedy High School, he has three daughters with his wife, Christine: RaeAnn Nina, 26; Danyelle Justine, 21; and Dakota Jayde, 11.
“It’s been a long, long road to get here, and when you finally do arrive, it just keeps going,” Mortera says. “This is a very saturated market. You find your niche and pray it works.”
His role with his wife’s restaurant is mostly behind the scenes, and the business is doing well, he says.
“It offers a laid back island-style experience with a menu that features a mix of Hawaiian-Asian cuisine, which goes great with our famous Napu-style salad bar.”
Guests can enjoy kalua pork lumpia, garlicky chicken wings and ahi poke’, while entrées cover everything from Japanese-style curry; island-style meatloaf tinaktak; lau lau, huli huli chicken or ribs; and donburi bowls from chicken teriyaki, loco moco to kalua pork.
But when the week is finally done and it’s time to clock out after countless hours of inventory, phone calls, paperwork and quality assurance — the menu that Mortera is anxious to enjoy has two of his favorite things: sports and gardening.