Ernesto (Netto) Arends was born in Aruba on October 16, 1934. He attended the Mulo (Junior High School). He also spent three years at the Aruban Technical School, John F. Kennedy. On June 6th 1954 he started working at the Department of Public Works, where he worked in different departments during his 25 years there. While working for the government, he also held a side job as property appraiser.
When a group of friends, members of the Aruba Nautical Club, in 1969 decided to build a members club at the Balashi site, he was put in charge of the construction of both the club and pier. After its construction was completed, in the capacity of a board member, he took charge of the club’s bar and kitchen. This is where he started getting acquainted with the food and bar business. At the time he was employed by the government, but saw little to no advancement possibilities and thus decided to try to build a business of his own. Originally his plan was to open a Deli Shop. He did not sit still and started making plans. During his side job as a property appraiser, he met a Chinese couple interested in starting a small Chinese take-out service business. He told them of his plans and after a lot of meetings, they decided to partner up and start a Chinese Restaurant. He chose the name Kowloon, from a Chinese Restaurant in Trinidad, and thought the name was easy to pronounce. It was a mere coincidence that this Chines couple was originally from Hong Kong’s Kowloon City.
Kowloon Restaurant opened its doors on July 28, 1975 seating 35 people. As business increased, they expanded the property. A large dining room with the capacity for 70 people opened in December of 1976. The second expansion followed a year later with a separate dining room which is used for private occasions. At the moment the restaurant has a total capacity of almost 150 diners (Pre COVID). Kowloon, owned and operated by the Arends family since 1975, leads the pack as a gathering spot for local families, particularly on the weekend. Ernesto together with his wife Vilma were the founders and mentors to their daughters of this successful restaurant in Aruba. After giving the eldest daughter the reigns to the family business, Netto was still often found on site directing the restaurant.
His wife Vilma passed away at the age of 87 in 2017 and Ernesto Arends, passed away at the age of 84 in 2018. Their legacy lives on.