Open since 1998, Magenta and Snugbar are well-established and unique Corvallis spaces. Owner, Kimber Hoang created and opened these places all on her own, and has held every title possible within these businesses: developer, designer, bartender, baker, even the head chef. Now, as she continues to create fresh new businesses, a dream team of managers are being handed the Magenta reigns.
A few life changes in the past year, including a move to Hawaii and beginning a new natural holistic beauty products company named Kula Kimber, means a new focus and direction for the restaurant entrepreneur. Although still very involved with her Corvallis establishments from afar, Hoang has hired a new team to run the daily operations, and to inject the restaurant and bar with fresh energy and ideas.
Hoang says her life quote has always been, “The next chapter is going to be better because I will make it better.”
This new chapter includes the hiring of Branden Johnson as operations manager and Justin Gelea as bar manager to assist current restaurant manager, Nikki Marshall. The two service-industry professionals have known each other through work, and already have a mutual respect for how the other has perfected their craft.
It is no accident that Gelea has landed at Magenta, either. A native Hawaiian, Gelea practices living “that aloha spirit.” In Hawaii, the aloha spirit translates to mean “the joyful sharing of life energy in the present,” or simply, “joyfully sharing life.” This spirit is evident in Gelea as he passionately tells his story.
Before coming to Corvallis, Gelea was a bartender at an upscale bar in Albany named The Vault. After working there for several years, he had an established local following. Usually wearing a bow tie and suspenders, he wowed his patrons with his stylized bartending skills.
He became so well-known as a top bartender in the area that he garnered the attention of local aspiring restauranteur, Benny Augeri. Augeri began frequenting The Vault, watching everything Gelea did. Augeri was so impressed by his bartending that he asked Gelea to come work at his new restaurant in Corvallis called Sidecar.
Eventually agreeing to be bar manager of the new establishment, Gelea left his position at the Vault and worked with Augeri to create a cocktail menu and bar scene. Unfortunately, this partnership quickly turned sour after Sidecar’s opening.
After multiple disagreements, Gelea said the two of them, “mutually agreed we did not work well together.”
Looking for a more positive opportunity after leaving Sidecar, Gelea teamed up with Johnson, and using their unified vision of traditional bartending and showmanship, they approached Kimber Hoang about working at Magenta and presented an offer she could not refuse.
“Ohauna” is another Hawaiian word used to describe what is becoming the new movement at Magenta, “it means family in Hawaiian,” Galea said.
He went on to explain how the word symbolizes the way they feel about each other as a team, “it means that our co-workers are our family, and family takes care of one another. “
This Hawaiian movement resonates with owner Hoang. After hearing their philosophies, she was happy to hire them to revamp, remodel, and rebrand Magenta and Snugbar. As the new operations manager, Johnson is passionate about the changes the new team is planning to make in the future.
“This is what we love to do. Kimber has encouraged us to be innovative. She has a unique vision that parallels with our vision of what an exceptional restaurant experience should be,” he said. “The stars have aligned and we are in a position where we all need each other and can benefit from each other’s passions and beliefs.”
New changes include hiring a well-experienced bartender for the Snugbar, Steven Swaim, and updating the décor of the downstairs bar into a swanky speakeasy with innovative and traditional cocktails. Word is already spreading about all of the exciting changes, because according to Swaim, the cozy bar was packed last weekend.
Head over to Magenta and say hello to the new faces and to witness all the new and exciting changes. You will be happy that you did.
By Jennifer Moreland