our story

The creation of Kiawe Roots would not have been possible without food truck Roots in Culture, owned and operated by husband and wife team, Mark and Tricia Ruiz.

When Mark and Tricia first saw the national craze of the food truck culture explode, they dared to dream to have one of their own.

Their dreams finally came true when they took a leap of faith to open Roots in Culture in the spring of 2017. Before marking their 1 year anniversary of food truck business, they were presented with an opportunity of a lifetime they simply could not pass up. Mark’s previous work as the Executive Chef at Tortilla Republic was the driving force into the fate of their restaurant ownership. His leadership, management, and dedication proved his candidacy to own and manage his own restaurant space. A true testament to the meaning of “hard work pays off.”  

The food truck concept Mark and Tricia created soon evolved into what Kiawe Roots
is today.

With no formal culinary training, Mark started in the restaurant industry as a busser at Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion in Las Vegas. He later moved to Colorado where he expanded his knowledge in the kitchen and front of the house. He worked at various restaurants, including a neighborhood pizza joint, a mom and pop diner, and casino operations. Beginning as a line cook at the buffet in a neighborhood casino in Black Hawk, Colorado, Mark worked his way up to become Sous Chef at Farraday’s Steak House at the Isle of Capri. He would later return to Las Vegas and Roy’s to become Sous Chef at the Summerlin location. Mark and Tricia eventually moved back home to Kaua’i, Hawaii where to fill his role as Chef de Cuisine of RumFire at the Sheraton Kaua’i Resort in Po’ipu.

In her teenage years, Tricia worked in the food and beverage industry as a barista at Java Kai and a cook at Harley’s Ribs-n-Chicken. She would later further her education at William F. Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality.

Mark + Tricia Ruiz

founders