People Behind Hai Bar & Grill

Bali Hai Bar, Lunch in Lembongan

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Hai Bar & Grill. It’s a beautiful restaurant and bar on the beach in Mushroom Bay – so what’s not to like?! Add to that the delicious menu and great cocktails and you’ve got the recipe for a great lunch or dinner with friends. But there is also one thing that really stands out for me…. the staff. They are a great team and judging by the smiles and laughter, you can see they love what they do.

Bali Hai Bar & Grill Staff, KadekSo this week we have interviews with two staff from the Hai Bar & Grill team.
Kadek is a quick with a smile, offers great guest service and has many hidden talents (I’ve heard he speaks a few different languages). He’s been a part of the Bali Hai family for three years on Nusa Lembongan and he is the supervisor at Hai Bar & Grill.
Everyone dreams of living and working on a tropical island so I asked Kadek to describe a typical work day.
“I am from Bali so I have always lived and worked on a tropical island. I am not sure if everyone wants to live and work on a small island like Lembongan. Many of my friends want to live in the busy city. My friends from Bali ask me ‘why are you moving to such a small island where there is nothing to do?’ I tell them that this is my life, I love my job and want to do and see new things. When I am not at work I am doing tours, relaxing with the friends I have made in Lembongan and with friends that come from other countries. It’s like a holiday for me.
For work we first clean the restaurant, check stock, prepare fruit, juices and other beverages. Then we check the reservations and prepare tables. I give staff briefing on tables, sections and other details like maybe what we are sold out on the night. Then we wait for the guests and give them the best service we can. That is my favourite thing to do. Other days I must do inventory, accounting and scheduling for the staff. That is not fun! Hahaha!”

Lembongan Resort, Lembongan Bar, Lembongan Grill

What are some of the changes you have seen at the resort and also on Lembongan since you started?
“Many things have changed. More resorts and restaurants are now on the island. More rooms at our resort. We have also made our kitchen bigger. So many things are changing so fast. When we first opened we were a little quiet, now we are very busy. We try to give the best food and service and I think that is why we are busy. When we first started we had 10 staff, now we have 44.”
Of all the water sport activities available at the resort, what is your favourite?
“I love Aquanauts. We did this activity with many of the staff. When we did this a lot of my friends could not go underwater but I did it for 20 minutes. I also like the banana boats. When I first started working here I could not swim so when it tipped over I was very, very scared. I was wearing a life vest so I could float. Even though I was the only one that didn’t know how to swim, I was the first one to get back on the banana boat. Now I can swim because many of the resort guests have helped me learn.”
Ok Kadek, hard-hitting journalist question…nasi goreng or soto ayam? (my favourite things on your menu.)
“For me I like both but my favourite is the beef rendang. In other places like masakan padang restaurants, the beef is a little hard. The beef at Hai Bar & Grill is very tender and like a curry. I love to recommend it to our guests and they are always happy with it.”

Josh HoltmanIt’s fairly easy to work out who Josh is when you’re at Hai Bar & Grill, the only American and a long way from home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He’s been a part of the Bali Hai family now for somewhere around 2years, 11 months, 13 days, 6 hours and 21 minutes…something like that anyway he says!
Being from Sioux Falls with no ocean in sight, living and working on a tropical island is a big change. Describe your typical day.
“The thing I like about this business and the tropical island is that there is no typical day. I have things I like to do every day like greeting and talking to guests, answering any questions they might have. Joking and laughing with staff. Some days I get to sample new delicious dishes or create new and tasty cocktails for the bar. I also get to sample and check our activities. Other days are spent troubleshooting various issues that need to be solved quickly. Never a dull moment really except for the days that I need to catch up on office work of course, you know, the really exciting stuff!”
So you’ve obviously seen some changes to the resort and also on Lembongan since you started?
“We are always looking to improve things here at the resort so there are always some changes happening. We increased the number of rooms last year. We upgraded our villa with a private pool, expanded the kitchen at Hai Bar & Grill, and improved our massage facilities, just to name a few. We have introduced a few new activities for guests that we are very proud of, including ‘Movies Under the Stars’ and ‘Aristocat Island Discovery Tour’. I have also seen our occupancy increase. I think the same goes for the island. There are always projects happening. They have repaved the roads, added some much needed street lighting too. There are new temples, villas and hotels. I have also seen schools and businesses working together doing beach clean ups and raising awareness about environmental issues. There is no question in my mind that Lembongan has become busier since I have been here, but at the same time ‘the more things change, the more they tend to stay the same’. The people are still very traditional, quick to smile, laugh and assist. You can still stroll down Mushroom Beach without being asked to buy things. And even though I shouldn’t, I still to ride my motorbike without a helmet. It’s the little things for me.”
And water sports, when you do get time what are your favourites?
“Some of my favourites are scuba diving, snorkelling and sailing. Paddling boarding at sunset is also pretty spectacular.”
Ok now, time to put the spotlight on you…nasi goreng or soto ayam?
“There is no way I could name a favourite! Even though I didn’t invent them, it would be like trying to picka favourite child I guess. For me it’s whatever mood I am in. Some days are nasi days, some days are soto days.”
One thing is for sure, it’s obvious to see both Josh and Kadek love their work and the island, and that kind of passion is obvious when you visit the resort and Hai Bar & Grill. Next time you are on Lembongan and in Mushroom Bay, head to Hai Bar & Grill, say hi to Josh and Kadek from The Travellist then give me your verdict on your favourite dishes on the menu!
Happy cruising and island travels,
The Travellist

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