World travelling hockey pro settles in to a tasty future

Yes, this probably does require some explanation.

When Tenute and his now-wife started dating, he’d never had a falafel. Never had tabouli, never had baklava, never had kibbeh.

“I had not had any of this stuff,” he says.

That wasn’t going to last long since his wife’s father had arrived in this city from Lebanon several decades ago and opened a restaurant called La Luna. In subsequent years, the family had started a second location and three La Luna Express restaurants. So it was natural he’d be introduced to it on one of their first dates.

Mr. Eat-His-Way-Around-The-World was sold after that one dinner. He immediately started eating it nearly every day he was home. Now that he was looking for a new career, helping grow the business made all kinds of sense. His plan quickly became all about turning something he loved that was already successful into something bigger.

“One of the goals we have is to expand and make La Luna something that we can put in cities that aren’t just Hamilton,” he says.

Right now he’s working out of the James Street South location with his brother-in-law and learning the ropes. Soon the expansion plans will begin in earnest.

In the meantime, he’s doing fine without hockey. After nearly 750 regular-season and playoff games in the pros, he figures he’d accomplished everything he wanted.

“I wish I won the Stanley Cup,” he laughs.

OK, he accomplished almost everything.

He won a Calder Cup. He got to play for his hometown team. He walked away healthy. He played an NHL game and had a few shifts with Alex Ovechkin.

“He got stuck out on a long shift and I jumped on,” he quips.

And he’s not giving it up cold turkey. He’s signed up to play occasionally in a competitive 3-on-3 league. Partly because he still loves it and partly because his kids are too young to have many memories of his playing career. That’s something he thinks about now.

Even though it’s not the big time, he wants his son to have some memories of dad on the ice.

“I want my son to still watch me play hockey,” Tenute says. “I still want to be his favourite player.”

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Spectator columnist Scott Radley hosts The Scott Radley Show weeknights from 7-9 on 900CHML