Lighting the way at Island Style Food

For owner Nicholas DeCaro, Island Style Food & BBQ pays homage to his mother and grandparents and cherished memories preparing authentic Micronesian cuisine together.

"Food and culture have always played an integral part in my life," said Nicholas. "I grew up liking to cook Filipino and island dishes. My family taught me the old school way by sight and taste."

His parents operated DeCaro's Italian Restaurant on North Division for over twenty years.

"I saw their successes and hardships," said Nicholas. " I learned a great deal from their experience."

Despite his family’s influence, Nicholas pursued work outside the food industry. He sold and invested in real estate, owning apartments and other commercial properties.

Then, a car accident changed his life.

It led him through a vicious cycle of crippling pain, tragic loss, addiction and eventually prison. Thanks to the love he has for his son, Nicholas turned his life around.

"I lost a great deal. Then I realized my son lost all that, plus his father," said Nicholas. " I vowed to change my life."

One week after leaving prison, he enrolled in Spokane Community College. From there, he was awarded a full scholarship to attend Whitworth University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in sculpture and administration. In a class taught by Kevin Parker, Dutch Bros. Coffee owner, Nicholas began to develop a business plan to open a food truck. The class gave him the momentum he needed to chase his dream.

"It was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had in my life," said Nicholas. " It was like a movie."

Determined to succeed, he assumed the name ‘Chef Sin', which in Chamorro means warrior. He started preparing his cultural delights in a small kitchen inside an 18-foot food truck. He and two partners opened Island Style Foods & BBQ during the pandemic to lines of hungry patrons who waited patiently for his creative entrees.

"Our first two weeks, we had two-and-a-half-hour waits in line," said Nicholas. "There were lines around the block."

The business grew substantially. It prompted a transition from his food truck to a brick-and-mortar restaurant, which took 11 months to renovate.

"It was the first Pizza Hut in Spokane," said Nicholas." The building was pretty old and had been vacant for quite some time."

DeCaro utilized Avista's Small Business Direct-Install Lighting Program to upgrade lighting throughout the 2,000-square-foot building and its parking lot. The program covered the entire $6,452 project cost, making the upgrades free of charge for Nicholas.

"Upgraded lighting can influence the mood of a restaurant and make the space feel more inviting," said Rachelle Humphrey, Avista Senior Program Manager. "From reading the menu to enjoying the food, new lighting can improve customer experience – which is good for any business."

Avista small business customers in Washington and Idaho can easily qualify for lighting upgrades like this. Plus, Avista is typically able to cover 100% of the project costs.

"The LED lights in the parking lot are phenomenal," said Nicholas. "They brightened it up and made it safer for our employees."

Now with both restaurant and life shining brightly, Nicholas is looking forward. He’s working on a 24-foot trailer for catering and events, which will expand his services and allow for travel.

If your small business could benefit from fresh lighting and energy savings, sign up for Avista’s program now at

Sign up


  1. Commercial
  2. Energy Saving
  3. Community