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Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum to open at Kings’ Shops

Brandon Lee, Solomon Aikau, Linda Gillette and Ryan Lee. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


Eddie Aikau, the inspiring Hawaiian hero and big wave surf legend who was lost at sea in 1978, dared to “go” for the biggest waves, the bravest ocean rescues, and the 2,500-mile trans-Pacific voyage of the sailing canoe Hokulea.

Today two Hawaii Island-based companies have partnered to share Eddie’s story and spirit in a new, up-and-coming classic: the Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum, opening this summer at Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa Beach Resort.

Brandon Lee, Ryan Lee and Keoni Regidor, the Honokaa Brothers, along with Executive Chef Scott Lutey, are Hawaii born and raised, surfers, watermen, enthusiastic young restaurateurs and chefs to watch.

With Hawaiian Cahuilla, Inc., owned by Waimea residents Linda Gillette and husband Solomon Aikau, Eddie’s brother, they are working to assemble the ultimate collection of memorabilia, surf posters, awards, pictures, surfboards, videos and much more for the restaurant’s surf museum.

A July 3 grand opening promises to be a big splash — with special appearances by celebrity pro surfers, top-of-the-charts Hawaiian bands, prizes, specials and surprises. With renovations under way now and exciting plans for the future, “Eddie’s” will debut during Independence Day festivities, including the annual Rubber Duckie Race for Cerebral Palsy, this year themed “Koloa Would Go.”

With the grand opening slated for July 3, the Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum will be open for lunch and dinner, with live music Thursday through Saturday nights.

Located in the Kings’ Shops at Waikoloa Beach Resort, the two-story restaurant with indoor-outdoor lakeside seating, has been transformed into a hip yet classic 1960’s-style surf retreat/plantation house. Its ohia posts, earth tone interiors, “aloha” fabrics and a lifetime collection of surf memorabilia and mementos of Eddie’s life and surf career, capture the warm nature of an island home, inviting everyone to come in, share a meal and “talk story.”

Winner of multiple Hale Aina Awards, Chef Scott Lutey is creating a new Contemporary Hawaiian Cuisine for “Eddie’s” restaurant, based on his personal manao (thought energy) about food.

“We focus on enhancing the natural flavor of the product, keeping up with food trends, cooking techniques and flavors in Hawaii and around the world — with simple elegance,” Lutey said.

Spotlighting excellence in the sustainable local foods that Eddie would have loved, Lutey is already reaching out to farmers, fishermen and ranchers for the best in Hawaii’s food products.

A waterman himself, Lutey is originally from Maui, and has made a name for himself on four islands, from First Hawaiian Bank’s Executive Dining Room in Honolulu, to the Sheraton Kauai and Beach House Restaurant, Grand Wailea Hotel and Spa on Maui, and Tommy Bahama’s restaurant in the Mauna Lani Resort here on Hawaii Island.

Recipient of five Hale Aina Awards and two Ilima Awards, Lutey has been a “Featured Chef” by James Beard and “Rising Star” by Zagat Survey Millennium Edition. He is a grand prize winner of the Angostura “World Class Taste,” and twice champion of the Sam Choy Poke contest.

Hawaiian Cahuilla, Inc., comprised of Linda Gillette and husband Solomon Aikau, Eddie’s brother, partnered with Honokaa Brothers, LLC to create “The E. A. Restaurants,” a collaboration of restaurant expertise and a personal relationship with Eddie.

Honokaa Brothers LLC is comprised of Brandon Lee, Ryan Lee and Keoni Regidor, who already operate two of the Big Island’s favorite recent restaurants: Pakini Grill in Waimea and Napua on the ocean at Kalahuipuaa within Mauna Lani Resort.

The Eddie Aikau Restaurant & Surf Museum at Kings’ Shops in Waikoloa Beach Resort will add a third. Everyone involved with the project has a personal commitment to the kuleana (responsibility) of sharing Eddie’s story.

Edward Ryon Makuahanai Aikau was born on Maui in 1946 and grew up on Oahu with his extended family, who tended an old Chinese graveyard in exchange for rent.

He and his brothers dreamed of the day they could catch the monster waves of the North Shore, where few 1960’s surfers dared to go.

Eddie Aikau not only mastered the challenge of Waimea Bay, he captured the attention and respect of the sport and helped spark a worldwide love affair with big wave surfing.

In the years to come, he would be hired as the North Shore’s first official life guard, and not a soul was lost to the sea during his seven years of service. No matter how dangerous the conditions, it became known that “Eddie would go.”

By 1977, he had won the Duke Kahanamoku Classic, named for his personal hero, had his photo in Life magazine, and was ranked 12th in the surfing world.

Having satisfied his big wave goals, Eddie answered a personal calling to connect more deeply with his Hawaiian culture joining the Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokulea.

Hokulea set sail March 16, 1978, on what would be an ill-fated voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti. Capsized in rough seas, Eddie insisted upon paddling to Lanai for help, some 19 miles away. Although the crew was later rescued, Eddie was never seen again.

His legacy is honored through the world’s most famous big wave surf meet, The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, and The Eddie Aikau Foundation, established by the Aikau family in 2000, to support promising opportunities that reflect Eddie’s dreams through education, advocacy and philanthropy.

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