Hula Hulas Opens in Hilo
The first of five statewide planned farm-to-fork and entertainment restaurants and bars opened on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, in Hilo on Hawai‘i island.
Hula Hulas’ grand opening celebration included more than 200 community, business and government leaders and guests.
Hula Hulas sits on the point of the peninsula on historic Banyan Drive. Offering 270-degree panoramic ocean views, Hula Hulas is the only oceanfront Hilo restaurant open to the public. The new restaurant is less than three miles from Hilo International Airport and less than two miles from downtown Hilo.
Festivities began in the late afternoon, with guests walking a red carpet spanning Hula Hulas’ porte cochere, followed by photos against a customized backdrop.
Guests were welcomed with the restaurant’s signature cocktail, the Hilo Mai Tai, while Hawaiian music played from a custom-built stage—the largest live music restaurant stage on the island.
Throughout the evening, guests were treated to a variety of hand-passed locally-inspired flavors from the restaurant’s menus along with chef stations featuring fresh local fish and produce.
Several Hawai‘i County government officials were present including Managing Director Will Okabe and Sen. Kaiali‘i Kahele.
Kumu Paul Neves conducted a traditional Hawaiian blessing with maile lei ceremony, followed by guests being showered with flowers dropped from a passing helicopter.
Just past sunset, guests enjoyed performances by Halau Hule Ke Olu Makani o Mauna Loa and Nā Hōkū Hanohano Award-winner Anuhea.
Hula Hulas is owned by Grand Restaurant Group out of San Diego. Regional Chef Amy DiBiase created the menus in collaboration with the restaurant’s locally-hired chefs.
Hula Hula’s signature dish is Chef Amy’s “Cast Iron Chicken,” a half-chicken marinated in lemongrass and rosemary, served in a cast iron pot with oven-roasted potatoes, tomatoes and Chinese long beans.
Menus will change regularly to source goods seasonally.
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options are offered on all menus, and chefs welcome dish modifications for dietary restrictions.
The wine and spirits menu includes 12 tap handles of local and global craft beer and seasonal cocktails that incorporate simple syrups made in-house.
“We are honored that Grand Restaurant Group has recognized Hawai‘i’s culinary scene and committed such extensive resources to its new Hawai‘i venture,” Ed Bushor, chief executive officer of Tower Development Inc. and developer of the restaurant’s neighboring Grand Naniloa Hotel said. “Hilo is blessed to have been chosen by such a quality restaurant operator to launch the new Hula Hulas brand.”
“We are excited to provide locals and visitors with a creative twist on the unique flavors of Hawai‘i,” said co-owners Brian Bonar and Sandy DiCicco of Grand Restaurant Group. “Hula Hulas is committed to supporting local farmers, fishermen, bow hunters and food artisans, and sharing their stories with our guests. Hilo is a wonderful community and we feel very fortunate to have been welcomed so warmly.”
To provide guests with a comprehensive vision of the menu concepts and to support the people behind the restaurant’s local resources, all servers undergo an extensive two-week training process. Sessions cover areas such as wine education, food and alcohol knowledge, coffee purveyor seminars and fish orientation.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Hula Hulas is a locally inspired creative-casual entertainment restaurant and bar that sources from land and sea. The contemporary, open-air restaurant offers expansive views of Hilo Bay and can seat 273 guests in six dining areas: 104 seats in the main dining room, 23 seats in the lounge, 18 seats at the lounge bar, 32 seats on the patio, two semi-private dining spaces with 12 and 14 seats, and 70 seats in a private dining space.
Musicians perform nightly from the lounge’s elevated live music stage.
Hula hulas is located at 93 Banyan Drive.
Reservations can be made at OpenTable or by calling direct at (808) 932-4545.
More information about the restaurant including menus and special events can be found online.