Bringing It All to the Table With the Ottos
The Old Town Junction is a new rustic restaurant residing in Old Town Newhall. Sitting on the corner of Market and Main Street, its beautiful interior design compliments the close-knit ambiance of the area, sprinkled with the personal touch of Chef Daniel Otto and his wife, Shawlyn, in every corner. After spending two decades together, they’ve become the dynamic couple who know how to bring it all to the table.
“Sparks flew,” when the two crossed paths 20 years ago, according to Chef Daniel. He and his wife met in the hospitality industry as young adults, both harboring two jobs at the time and Shawlyn going to school as well. They’ve been inseparable ever since and now share three children: Giavanna (12), Adrianna (10), and Dominic (5).
“I hit the lottery,” Chef Daniel says when discussing his wife, Shawlyn. She is a certified interior designer, and is to be credited for the restaurant’s sublime decor. When not occupied designing or being a full-time mom, Shawlyn assists in running the business in any way she can, helping with things like invoices, accounting, and grocery runs. When asked what she likes most about the project, she says, “it’s like our own baby…I’m enjoying helping this dream come true.”
Chef Daniel, who was named élite Magazine’s Ultimate Chef in 2017, says his favorite part of owning his own restaurant is the ability to “let the artist do the painting.” Rather than following the creative direction of an owner, he is now able to fully exercise his talents as a chef, and with the support of his family, his “personal cheerleaders,” the possibilities are endless.
Finding a steady balance between work and family time is a constant struggle that the family faces, but it is always priority. “It’s the industry and expectation,” Shawlyn comments when discussing the long, demanding hours her husband will spend at work. But even at the start of their relationship, time was constrained by the workflow demand; growing through it has become second nature to the Otto’s, and a vital part of family life. Chef Daniel makes sure to give his family his all on the days spent out of the kitchen, no matter how tired he may be; it is worth it to spend time with the ones who matter most. And with every night spent away at the restaurant, Chef Daniel teaches his children that success comes from hard work.
Chef Daniel and Shawlyn love to travel the world when they get a chance, listing Mexico and Europe as a couple of their favorite destinations. Their most recent trip was to Cabo, Cancun, which checks it off their bucket list of seeing the most beautiful beaches in the world. Also, the duo will travel to foodie destinations to explore, network, and of course, eat. Besides travelling, they enjoy going to concerts, boxing matches, football games…doing “a little bit of everything” is always on the to-do list for the Otto’s.
“Make time for each other…make that a priority,” Shawlyn advises when asked how she and Chef Daniel have kept such a strong relationship through the trials of their careers. Spending time away from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant, away from the demands of business and family life, just the two of them is an important part of their partnership dynamic. As for Chef Daniel, his advice is simple: “be spontaneous.”
2018 was a phenomenal year for Chef Daniel and Shawlyn; they opened The Old Town Junction and also relocated their family from Castaic to Newhall in order to be in closer proximity to their restaurant. As for 2019, they hope to find time for another vacation, possibly Chicago to check out the food scene, network with other chefs, and most importantly, enjoy each other’s company. The Otto’s definitely have a lot on their plates, but always make sure to save enough room for dessert.
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