Every month we spotlight a Woodlands employee to connect you with our team and feature what they do, day-in and day-out, to keep their department running smoothly. We appreciate our hard-working employees and want you to get to know them!

We take pride in Woodlands Cafe, the food we serve, and our role as a community gathering place for Kentfield and greater Marin. We strive to create a welcoming, comfortable and friendly place where friends can meet to catch up over a delicious meal. No one goes further towards achieving this goal than Houman Ehya, our Cafe manager.

What is your history with Woodlands?

I’ve been at Woodlands in some capacity for nearly 15 years, in all three stores, and I’ve been the Cafe Manager for about a year. Prior to that, I was a demo coordinator, either working with our vendors to schedule sample tastings or working the floor offering samplings myself. I’ve also been a grocery buyer assistant, and was a customer service manager in Kentfield for about eight years.

What is your approach to running the Café?

The Market and the Cafe are both guest-centric, but the Cafe is more intimate. We try to imbue the Cafe with a friendly, family feel, so people feel like they’re being taken care of. We want it to be a place our guests want to go to, not just to eat, but hang out for a while, and come back again and again. It’s great to see neighbors or friends stick around for a while to hang out and catch up with each other in the Market or the Cafe.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Before I open the Cafe, I make sure everything is clean and inviting, and that we’re ready to serve our guests. I do everything I can to make sure the restaurant runs smoothly, focusing on service. I care a lot about how the food is presented, and that our servers really take care of our guests. Fortunately, they’ve been here a long time and they’re good at their job. We have a great crew here and everyone has great communication.

I like to be out on the floor, checking in with our guests. I look at them as family who come to my home, and I want to make sure everyone has a great time.

Woodlands has done an amazing job curating this comfortable, inviting environment, and it’s one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve seen in the area.

We close at 2:30 pm, and while our staff cleans up I have time to do the necessary office work, including ordering, scheduling, and anything else that needs to be done.

What do you love about your job?

I love working in the Cafe, as I’ve always preferred to be in public and interacting with guests. I’m not the type of person you’ll find working in an office at a desk, in front of a computer. My roles at Woodlands have always been customer service-related. My job is to make sure people are happy, and it really makes my day to smile at someone and provide them with an enjoyable meal. I want people to be comfortable, and get them excited about what we offer.

Woodlands is a great company to work for. I really like the staff and the management, and owners are all friendly and caring people. It’s great to work for a company where the local residents know the owners personally and think so highly of them. It really makes my job easier when our guests trust us and love our business.

At Woodlands Market and the Cafe, we see customers who have been shopping with us for 30-plus years, and it’s always great to see them and catch up with them.

What’s your favorite item on the menu?

I love the Peasant Salad with chicken breast! It’s the perfect combination of ingredients, and makes for a filling, healthy lunch: greens, apples, grapes, candied pecans, dried cranberries, Point Reyes blue cheese and white balsamic apple vinaigrette.