“The long vacant lot adjacent to our flagship Huggo’s restaurant became available for purchase and we jumped at the opportunity to create a more casual, toes-in-the-sand restaurant and bar that also showcases some of the most talented musicians from around the island,” Eric says.
The menu focuses on more casual dining options with an emphasis on island fresh foods, refreshing tropical libations; the vibe is fun and relaxed – a place for good friends and families to create memories together, he says.
Eric is president of Olu Kai, Ltd., which does business as Huggo’s Restaurant, On the Rocks and Paradise Gourmet Catering, which also opened its doors in 1982. In 2009, Grass Shack Party Rentals was introduced and in June 2012, the newest member of the Olu Kai, Ltd. is being introduced, Lava Lava Beach Club (restaurant and bar, event venue and boutique lodging) at Waikoloa Beach Resort.
A graduate of the Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea, Eric earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Southern Methodist University in 1979. A fourth-generation Chinese-Hawaiian, Eric worked in every capacity at Huggo’s before taking on the top dog position. He began as an aspiring 11-year-old bus boy, joining his brother and sister who also pitched in during summer vacations.
Serving as a role model for his employees, Eric served as president of the Kona-Kohala Chamber for two years (2003-2005). He has chaired the Government Affairs Committee and has been instrumental in starting up the Kailua-Kona Business Improvement District.
Organizing and participating in fundraisers is a key community component for Eric and all of his Olu kai, Ltd. enterprises. The world’s largest women’s billfish tournament is Huggo’s annual Na Pua O Ka Kai, which benefits non-profit organizations like Family Support Services of West Hawaii, and most recently The Neighborhood Place of Kona. Started in 2000, the tournament raised over $70,000 in its’ first 11 years and is still going strong today.
Eric shares his fundraising expertise as a member of the board of directors for the Hualalai Academy. Through participation in a brunch program he helped raise $8,000 for Friends of the Childrens’ Advocacy and volunteers Huggo’s, On the Rocks and Paradise Gourmet Catering’s expertise and staff for various fundraising chef events. For a listing of Chef events, see the Calendar of Events.