Theo Martin

Fabulous People: Theo Martin

Theo Martin is an entrepreneur and owner of Island Soul and Arleana’s restaurants (the latter of which opens in Downtown Kirkland on April 8). “It is named after my mother, Lulu ‘Arleana’ Martin. I wanted to find a way to honor her, as she truly loved people, family and food. She lived a life of service and left behind a legacy of connecting communities.” Learn about Theo Martin…

Hometown: Seattle 

First job: My dad’s mini mart and his BBQ restaurant. I learned so much from a young age which helped me grow into the entrepreneur that I am today.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: I’m a total foodie so I love going around to experience my peers’ and colleagues’ restaurants. I love golfing when I’m not working, which isn’t very often.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: My now-grown kids have always proudly worked in our family business. They all moved out and now own their own properties. 

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Foster care. My parents adopted me when I was 7 years old, after I had gone through 14 other homes. My mother used her knowledge as a registered nurse and skill as a restaurant owner to prepare meals that accommodated my numerous food allergies. She made me feel like I finally belonged. She would always tell me that “food is about community, friends and family. It should fill the soul, not just your belly.”

Someone who inspires you and why: Definitely my father and mother. They raised me to love life, and when they legally adopted me, it literally changed my life. I feel like from that day forward, I saw my life through an entirely new lens, thanks to them.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: You must love people, food and family or it will not work. Period. I always tell those around me to constantly think of how they can better or always serve others. 

Favorite quote: Every day I strive to better myself because the only person at the end of the day that makes me the happiest is myself. 

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: Not only do we run two restaurants, we have had an employment agency for the last 25 years in Downtown Kent.

What makes someone fabulous: Serving others!

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