Spinster Records owner David Grover went to high school in East Honolulu in the early ’80s.
Growing up on one end of Oahu was pretty idyllic.
Punk rock and new wave were just beginning to reach Hawaii, and his parents owned a house in Hawaii Kai, a residential development where everyone had free cable, including MTV.
His first high school job, however, was not a heady experience.
A friend, the bass player in his high school band, convinced Grover to join him as a dishwasher at the Hawaiian fast-food chain Zippy’s.
The restaurant offers plate lunches with rice, a protein such as fried chicken and a scoop of macaroni salad. But Zippy’s is most famous for its chili.
“I learned how to scrape chili off the bottom of pans,” Grover says.
A few months later, another friend told him he could get him a job at Baskin Robbins. This ice cream shop was right by the beach in the shopping center that was the vortex of their teenage universe.
“Girls coming in wearing bikinis all the time,” he says. “At that age, it’s like I’d died and gone to heaven.”
In Hawaii, employers always feed their workers lunch. The guy who owned the Baskin Robbins told Grover and company, “Since I can’t offer you lunch, you can trade ice cream with anyone else in the shopping center.”
“So I would trade for gas, dry cleaning, nachos…” Grover says.
He worked there for about two years, and his sister worked there for a time, too. Later he waited tables during the week and played gigs with his band on the weekends. He did that for a couple of years before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a music career.
Some lessons from Baskin Robbins have stuck with him, Grover says. The shop’s owner was the first to tell him the first rule of real estate (or retail): “Location, location, location.”
Is it any wonder he set up shop in Oak Cliff?