Meet Luam Wersom, the owner of Mojito in Seattle’s Maple Leaf neighborhood. When Mojito opened in 2000, Luam began working at the Latin American and Cuban restaurant as a dishwasher. Twenty one years later, he has been the sole owner since 2017. Luam was born in Ethiopia to Eritrean parents, and came to the U.S. by way of Greece as a refugee. Beyond the food that he serves, Luam is dedicated to supporting members of the community in need, including donating meals to low income seniors every week.
Get to know more about Luam and Mojito in this weeks Business Spotlight Q&A!
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What’s your favorite part about the neighborhood/community your business is in and why?
The love — the love of Maple Leaf, Ravenna. The love that customers take time to [visit]— it’s not just that they come in to eat, they come in to check on your family and see how you’re doing. […] I am a working owner. Mojito — this thing that I’m doing every day is not a side gig. This is what I do, and I really take pride and make sure that customers enjoy their meal, enjoy their drink. […] For me, it’s about the whole idea that you come back and you tell your friends.
Why is it important to you and your business that people #SpendLikeItMatters?
It could be, for example, that the whole menu’s available, but one thing is missing, and I will go through traffic and I’ll go through hell just to make sure that product is available because people come in when they crave certain things. […] And it’s important to me that I have to give it 100% to make sure that this product is available, knowing that anyone could stay home and eat, but they come in and support a small business because they know that [the business] is supporting a family and supporting somebody real.
What are some of your favorite local businesses and why?
For me, I like Watershed in Green Lake, Northgate area and the couple who runs it — the owner [Kelsey Curran] during the pandemic, she was always doing shoutouts for different restaurants and giving support. Knowing they’re a bigger place and they made an effort to give to small businesses at this time where I never thought in my wildest dream that I’d be selling my food out of the window. So, the Watershed, I’ve known the owners for years and they have done an amazing job. […] There’s an Ethiopian restaurant called Enat and I knew them before they opened and the lady and her husband [Tsige Dibaba and Ghezahegn Abebe], they sell meat for the community. They started from scratch and used to sell food outside their house, and to see them where they are right now, it’s just unbelievable.