Kua ‘Aina to Make Waves
Inspired by the iconic Hawaiian Burger & Sandwich grill bearing the same name on Hawaii’s North Shore, Kua ‘Aina has ridden its wave of popularity from London to Belfast with its first Northern Ireland restaurant opening its doors in Victoria Square. The latest addition to Belfast’s quickly diversifying restaurant scene represents a significant investment into the local economy as well as bringing 30 new jobs to Belfast’s City Centre.
Locally owned and operated, Kua ‘Aina acts as a type of homecoming for two of the Big Chiefs, Paul and Patrick, who both have their roots in Northern Ireland.
“While we opened our first Kua ‘Aina restaurant in London, our Belfast opening symbolises two Northern Irish boys bringing their business home,” said Paul De Francisci. “We look forward to bringing a taste of Hawaii’s North Shore to Belfast in our fun, vibrant and laid-back restaurant.”
“We had a lot of fun working on the project”, said Janfranco Caro, Creative Director at Mystery, the agency who oversaw the restaurant’s branding and design. “The interior of the restaurant is a fun, colourful and authentic take on typical 1960/70s Hawaii, celebrating the “kitchness” of the island in a cool, distressed and urban way. The ceiling was inspired by classic 70s surf art, with depictions of sunsets using the graphics’ lines to represent the sky, sun and sea. This goes from daytime where the sun sits above the beach hut banquets to the sunset above the bar, which flows down the wall to represent the cocktail party hour.”
The exterior is distressed, whitewashed timber with a reclaimed feel, while the signage is inspired by classic retro American signage with naked bulbs in open trough letters that make up the logo.
Explaining how the Hawaiian-inspired restaurant made its way to this part of the world, co-founder Ed Bardos said: “After spending time in Hawaii and falling in love with the grilled sandwiches, burgers and warm ‘Aloha’ service at Kua ‘Aina, I knew there was nothing like it back home. Working with Terry Thompson, who has owned and run the original location for 40 years, our team set up two restaurants in London and following their incredible popularity made the decision to bring Kua ‘Aina to Belfast.”
While the spirit of Kua ‘Aina might be a global sensation, the restaurants owners remain loyal to the brand’s ethos of keeping things fresh and local.
“We are very conscious of sourcing the best possible local ingredients as we make everything fresh from scratch according to our tried and tested recipes,” added Patrick Gray, Operations Chief. “Our lava-grilled 100% pure beef burgers are made with no fillers or preservatives using our own blend of premium cuts of Northern Irish beef from a butcher in Dromara, while our buns are made using a secret recipe passed on to Belfast’s French Village Bakery to make for us. We prefer working with local suppliers to ensure our food does not travel too far, quality is consistently high and that we and our customers can feel good about supporting genuinely local business.”
Kua ‘Aina is located on Victoria Square’s second floor, across from the Odeon Cinema.