Over that decade, Ortiz — the general manager of the well-known restaurant — guided Outback into profitability and established a quality reputation here on the West Side, first at its Kahana location, and then as the flagship restaurant of the new Lahaina Gateway Shopping Center.
The second start came amid the Great Recession and put on full display Ortiz’ business acumen in being able to lead Lahaina Outback Steakhouse through the economic muck and into profitability.
And all through those years, Ortiz has also established a level of support from his company to the community on several levels. He has lent Outback’s support to the West Maui Taxpayers Association, Lahaina Intermediate School’s Renaissance Living and Learning program, Lahainaluna High School’s senior recognition effort, and King Kamehameha III Elementary School’s volunteer salutation.
His greatest effort, however, may have come in guiding Outback’s contributions to youth sports in the community. A collegiate baseball player himself and a father to two active boys, Ortiz guided Outback Steakhouse’s support into the West Maui Youth Basketball League (WMYBL), West Maui Little League Baseball, West Maui American Youth Soccer Organization and to Lahaina Pop Warner Football. He also coached in several of these kids’ leagues.
Don Rosenthal, WMYBL commissioner for over 25 years, noted that Ortiz has stepped to the plate to bring support to the program for the past 11 years.
“Art Ortiz and Outback Steakhouse have provided wonderful support to our league all through those years. I don’t know what we would have done without his help, but I do know that what he has done has been a big boost to the community and has helped promote youth basketball and sportsmanship,” he said.
It is clear that Ortiz has helped move the Lahaina community in a positive direction as a business manager and with his support to the youth culture of the West Side. His efforts represent the essence of what defines the family-first nature of Lahaina.
This is what makes the non-renewal of his contract — Ortiz’ current deal expires at the end of February — with Outback so disappointing.
Here we have a man who has endeared himself to his staff and wants to stay with them, by keeping up the quality product and presentation of Outback Steakhouse and to the community by lending company support to the schools and youth sports organizations.
Perhaps this is what led to his undoing. Did Outback corporate money crunchers determined that Ortiz’ store in Lahaina might have paid a little bit too much attention to the youth of the community? Could it be that the bottom line they desired was not attained precisely, because Ortiz tried to balance his business responsibilities with his desire to support the youth of the community?
Maybe we can help Art out. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell them your take on how he has helped Lahaina become what it is today. Ask them to reconsider.