Sharon Behler’s mother and grandmother were both born and raised in Hawaii.
So Sharon grew up eating the type of cuisine native to that state – teriyaki chicken, kalua pork and lots and lots of macaroni salad.
Her grandmother even once owned Hawaiian restaurants in Guam, and Behler’s dream has long been to open an Hawaiian restaurant of her own.
Now she has. Behler is the new owner of Sharon’s Place, a small restaurant at 141 E. Kay St. in Derby that specializes in Hawaiian plate lunches.
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“As a young child and military brat, my earliest memories were of going to grandma’s shop and grinding coffee and helping with the restaurant,” she said. “This was just something I had always wanted to do, ever since I was 5.”
The restaurant, which sits behind Sig’s Gourmet Butcher Shop, serves the type of Hawaiian food that Behler’s mother and grandmother made for her. She doesn’t claim that her recipes are 100 percent authentic, but they’re 100 percent the way she likes them.
Her menu includes teriyaki chicken and steak made with Behler’s own homemade sauce, plus kalua pork roast and seared Spam – one of Behler’s childhood favorites.
Customers can get the dishes in combo meals with macaroni salad, potato salad, green salad or rice. She also serves two desserts: bread pudding and a Hawaiian specialty called haupia, which is a coconut milk custard topped with toasted coconut and chocolate sauce.
So far, Behler said, Derby is responding enthusiastically to Hawaiian food. Her customers’ only complaint is that she isn’t open more often. Her hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Behler, who worked for 24 years in the insurance industry, said she’s getting used to the new pace of her life, and as business picks up, she might consider extending her hours.