Maple Ave Restaurant is the dream and vision of two people.
Chef & Owner Tim Ma was working as an engineer and living the good life but he felt something was missing. He liked his job but he knew there was something else that he was meant to do – so he began to cook for himself and for close friends. The more he cooked the more passionate he became to the point of considering a career change. He debated between having a steady income, growing in his engineering career or following his passion for the culinary world. Perhaps, his genes had something to do with this passion… as his family has owned and operated restaurants in New York and Arkansas. He struggled with this decision for a couple of years but finally chose to take a huge leap and left his steady income job, sold his car and moved to New York City to attend French Culinary Institute. Some called him crazy but he knew that this was the right thing to do and the time to do it.
Although, culinary school was fun he faced many challenges. Many of his peers had been cooking for years and/or owned their own restaurants – he was the newbie. While the funds were steady as an engineer the funds were low as a culinary student and unpaid intern (for 3 months) at a 2 Michelin star restaurant. He even found himself homeless for a couple of weeks and ended up crashing at his friends New Jersey apartment –- a 2 hour ride to school and 2 hours back . But, being the newbie, getting harassed by the chefs at his internship, having nothing in his bank account and being homeless couldn’t stop him — his passion for cooking took the lead. He excelled at FCI and graduated with honors and winning the best project award. He learned a lot in NYC but wanted to continue to learn so he took a position in St. Thomas USVI. While in St. Thomas, there were only 2 things he did… he cooked and thought about cooking and opening his own place.
In March 2009, he decided to take another huge leap and started the journey to Maple Ave Restaurant. He moved back to the “mainland” and began to look for the right location for his New American concept. Again many thought he was crazy and tried to talk him out of opening a restaurant but he knew it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it. Tim and his friends have been working until the wee hours of the night remodeling Maple Ave, to make it a comfortable, welcoming neighborhood restaurant.
photo by: www.InharChong.com
Joey Hernandez, General Manager
Joey Hernandez’s love for good food began when she was just 4 years old. She would stand on her tippy toes and watch her grandmother and mother cook for the family. They decided that she wasn’t tall enough to cook but she was just the right height to serve and entertain the family. Although, she really wanted to cook she fell in love with serving because it brought family and friends together, filled the room with laughter and created life long memories. Since she has remained true to her grandmothers and mothers teachings. For the past 10 years she has worked in restaurants in DC, NY and St. Thomas, USVI. She is now back in the area and has joined the Maple Ave team to serve, bring family and friends together and help create life long memories.