Saipan restaurant operator back in business after Super Typhoon Yutu

Airstream Cafe, Saipan

It’s a story of recovery nearly three months after Super Typhoon Yutu devastated Saipan–how one businessman in the capital of the Commonwealth is teaming up to sell meals and coffee from a mobile food truck  since the storm ripped through his restaurant. PNC News Director Janela Carrera is on Saipan to resume our “Rise Marianas” docu-series this week. She interviewed restaurateur Glen Hunter and his new business partner on Wednesday.

Guam – Like other business owners across the commonwealth, restaurant owner Glen Hunter had to shut down his Oleai Beach hangout, The Shack, after last fall’s stormy weather. Super Typhoon Yutu partially destroyed the restaurant building. As Hunter picks up the pieces and prepares to re-open, a brand new venture is brightening a once-cloudy horizon.

While Saipan begins its recovery and Hunter repairs The Shack, he has budgeted the time and resources to partner up with Jasper Van Der Mass and open Airstream Café. Their camper food truck is literally a silver lining to a harrowing loss.

The first major damage arrived in the midst of Typhoon Soudelor in 2015. Round two packed a more powerful punch during the October 25, 2018 landfall of Super Typhoon Yutu.

“During Soudelor I lost a portion of the roof,” Hunter told PNC about the temporary loss of The Shack. “During Yutu, I lost the entire roof.”

Hunter said what made Yutu even more unbearable was its proximity to Typhoon Soudelor, just when Saipan was off its knees and well into the island’s most prosperous economic rebound in 25 years.

“It’s been trying because the storm hit so close to…Soudelor, which was roughly about three years ago,” he said. “Many people out here were still in recovery from that storm. Many businesses were—mine being one of them—and  so when Yutu hit, it was a little extra force just because it came  so short after that storm that we thought–that many residents out here felt– that was the big one for the next ten years, or whatever.

“To have two storms hit back to back like that really, really negatively impacted the business community as well as the citizens in the community, who are still now–three months into it–really in a state of recovery, not even rebuilding yet.

“As you drive through some of the villages…down south you’re going to see they’re in tents right now, and they’ve been in those tents for the last three months now.”

“No power, lack of food,” Van Der Mass added.

Janela  Carrera will be reporting from the Commonwealth in the days ahead to update Guam viewers on the CNMI’s recovery after successive typhoons wreaked havoc on Rota, and then Tinian and Saipan last fall.