Many years ago, in the early 80’s, a young teenager fell in love with a little place called Wainiha, located just past Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai. Who knew that this teenager would become a successful restaurateur and have the amazing opportunity to have a restaurant in that very same place, Wainiha. This location has seen many different operators throughout the years, even CHARO was once the owner of a well-known restaurant in this very same place.
In May of 2017, Gregg Fraser, “young teenager” got an opportunity to look at the location for a possible business. Two months later, he signed the lease and Opakapaka Grill and Bar was born.
The turnaround of the previuos venue to Opakapaka Grill & Bar was no easy feat. What should have taken three months, we accomplished in three short weeks. Opening to the public on August 1, 2017. In that incredibly brief amount of time Fraser was able to secure a liquor license (a remarkable feat in three weeks) and food permit, and he and his team transformed what was once a struggling resort restaurant into a bustling seaside dining establishment. After hiring a new chef in December of 2017, Charles Steppe, this new restaurant began to hit its stride, only to be stopped dead in its tracks by 50 inches of water. (Kauai Floods April 2018)
The original opening of Opakapaka was a testament to Fraser’s skills and years of experience in the restaurant industry, but it was how he reacted to the community need during the Kauai flood of 2018 that really showed his heart. Opakapaka Grill & Bar managed to be one of the only places in the North Shore community of Wainiha that was spared from the floods. As the rest of the entire community was under water and cut off from the other parts of the island due to landslides covering Kuhio Highway, the friendly neighborhood bar and grill became a lifeline for the community for 14 months. During that very long time of isolation, Opakapaka fed the community, county workers, and first responders, at first for free, then at a very reduced cost, to make sure that no one went hungry. They also fed the children who attended the makeshift school at Hanalei Colony Resort and served as a community hub where residents could access information and resources and where elected officials could gather to understand the community’s needs.
Through every manner of trial and tribulation, Opakapaka Grill & Bar managed to weather the storm of the Kauai floods, only to have the Coronavirus pandemic descend upon the world, once again affecting operations. And once again, this North Shore institution persevered.
So next time you’re in the North Shore Kauai area, be sure to visit this little restaurant that could. The past is now the past, and we’ve got so many wonderful things planned for the future. We’d love to have you join us.