May 2024

Monthly News & Updates

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Chairman's Message

Dear Members,

As we stand six months into 2024, we find ourselves amidst a year teeming with events, from remarkable developments to formidable challenges. We've witnessed the daunting challenge of global conflicts, the relentless fury of natural disasters, and the tumultuous landscape of domestic politics. Yet, amidst these trials, our restaurant continues to thrive.

With three decades of experience in the restaurant industry, I've gleaned insights into the intricate dynamics of our world and the restaurant business. Through it all, one conclusion resonates: the correlation between our efforts and our success may not always be direct, but it undeniably exists. Our restaurants thrive when we dedicate ourselves to delivering exceptional food, maintaining high quality, and offering reasonable prices. It's about understanding people's palates, pleasing their tastes, and enticing them to return for more.

Reflecting on the past five years, the shadow of the pandemic looms large, destabilizing lives and economies worldwide. Yet, amidst this turmoil, our food business has flourished. Adaptation to our environment, balancing demand and supply, has propelled our growth.

To those enjoying success, I urge you to sustain it and strive for further triumphs. For those facing challenges, take a step back, reassess, and realign your focus on quality and value. Operating a restaurant and delivering top-notch food is no mystery; it requires relentless creativity and hard work. But once you crack the code and infuse your creativity into your formula, success follows suit.

Let not the turbulence of the world dishearten you; these challenges are transient. Beyond the chaos, people's fundamental need for sustenance and the joy of good food and service persist. So, let's press on, undeterred by the passing storms, and continue to serve our patrons with excellence.

Thank you for your unwavering dedication and commitment to our shared vision. Together, let's navigate the currents of change and emerge stronger, serving up satisfaction, one dish at a time.


Ave Kwok

Hawaii Restaurant Association Chairman

SBA loans can level the playing field, unlocking opportunities for growth and success that would otherwise remain out of reach

From understanding the basics of SBA loans and exploring their uses to navigating the application process, this article covers everything you need to know to decide if an SBA loan is right for your business, including real-life success stories and answers to frequently asked questions.

Learn More

Need Tobacco Signs for Your Restaurant?

The Hawaii Department of Health has a full range of signage for your restaurant. The signs are free for your business. Contact Gerrit DeWeese at DOH to requst the signage you need today!

Request Signs Here

Hawaii ProStart High School - Maui High School - showing off the new uniforms purchased with funds provided by the HRAEF.

Checking in with the HRA Educational Foundation

ProStart Students in the Classroom - Your Future Employees!

The Hawaii high schools supported by HRA's Educational Foundation follow the national ProStart culinary curriculum - Foundations of Restaurant Management & Culinary Arts, created by the National Restaurant Association, including ServSafe food handling certifications. The Hawaii ProStart curriculum fits within Hawaii schools’ CTE (Career Technical Education) requirements as topics are broken down into a 2-year program giving students well-rounded knowledge and practical skills:

Culinary I: Introducing students to careers in culinary, history & cultural influences, proper use of equipment & supplies, safety protocols, basic nutrition, measurements, and cooking.

Culinary II: Food Prep - different methods & considerations in commercial kitchens and restaurants; safety & sanitation; menu planning, culture & cuisine; platter & table preparation

Culinary III: Pastry & Savory - Proficiency & Safe practices; Fundamentals of Pastry & Dessert; Fundamentals of Meat Preparation

Culinary IV: Kitchen & Restaurant Operations - to prepare students to enter the Food Service & Culinary Cuisine Industry - Risk management; FOH & BOH Operations; Management of Culinary Events; ServSafe Certifications

Senior Capstone: Work-based Learning—Students develop a further understanding of professional Issues and Mastery of Academic and Technical Skills through real experience.

Expanding this program to more Hawaii schools will encourage more inter-school participation and opportunities. The HRA Educational Foundation's goal is to raise awareness of the program, its benefits, and why you would want to hire a ProStart student.

HRA Educational Foundation

HRA Member Special offered by

Restaurant Equipment Hawaii

HRA Member Restaurant Equipment Hawaii is offering HRA members a 30% Discount on two REH brand equipment from June 1 thru August 30. Valid on refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, stoves, tables and more!

Take advantage of this great promotion to upgrade your equipment.

Learn More

Free Cybersecurity Testing

The State of Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT) has created a Cybersafe Hawaii program. This initiative provides eligible companies with technical assessments of their IT systems to identify vulnerabilities, cyber training and systems testing. There is NO COST to qualified participants.

Learn More & Apply

BBB Certificate in Small Business Management

Accredited Businesses Save $164.75

As a small business owner, you are required to play many roles. In a single day, you may have to approve a project, plan a budget, train a new employee, and develop a marketing campaign. This course teaches you how to successfully take on every important aspect of managing your small business.

Learn More

HRA Members Attend the 2024 NRA Show

The Biggest and Best Foodservice Show of the Year

Hawaii was well represented at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago. The above group photo was carefully orchestrated by HRA's Executive Director, Sheryl Matsuoka, who wanted to acknowledge all of the Hawaii businesses in attendance.

Trends on display at the show in Chicago earlier this month included a lower profile for robots than in shows past, even as digital tech is on the rise, cannabis-infused beverages, controversial menu items, and the rise of the restaurant podcast.

Read More Trends
Congratulations L&L!

HRA's Incoming Chairman, Andy Huang of L&L Hawaiian BBQ, was honored with a National Operational Excellence Award. Congraulations Andy and L&L Hawaiian BBQ!

Meet the HRA Staff

Dana-Lynn Rodrigues

Aloha kākou! ʻO Dana-Lynn Rodrigues koʻu inoa. No Honolulu mai au. My journey in the hospitality industry began as a server in the Waikīkī Joy Hotel’s Cappuccino Cafe, finding part-time retail work at the (former) International Market Place, then working alongside the legendary Waikīkī Beach Boys. Their beach stand was posted directly in front of the famous Duke’s Waikīkī, a place we frequented daily. I later fell into HR and event planning roles in Kailua-Kona at The Royal Kona Resort and Oceanic Time Warner Cable. There, I initiated various fundraising efforts and steered the planning committee for several employee functions, honing my organizational skills and building a portfolio of beautiful events.

My entrepreneurial spirit broke through when I moved back to Oʻahu (bearing several keiki later) and started a seasonal picnic business with my oldest son. With a spirit for bringing people together, planning thoughtful events, and creating beautiful moments, I was led to the Hawaiʻi Restaurant Association in 2023. The HRA has truly become an important part of my current story, especially as I experienced the impact of the Lahaina wildfires from an industry perspective in my first week. I am continuing to learn the importance and unequivocal value of the Hawaiʻi Restaurant Association to the restaurant industry in Hawaiʻi, and I hope to continue growing under exceptional leadership from our team and the extraordinary foodservice community. 

April 2024 New and Renewing Members


Adesso Capital

Byrna Hawaii 

Dry Clean Express

HI Charger Power Bank Station

InForm Design

Roto Rooter Services Company 

Rutan Refrigeration and Air Conditioning

Much Aloha Koloa Brewhouse

Rainbow F & B Inc

Tadka Indian Cuisine


6 Pillars Marketing


Brigham Young University Hawaii 

Ekolu Kitchen 1279

Gyotaku Japanese Restaurants

Hawaii National Bank

Il Gelato

International Marketplace


Kaiser Permanente

Kountry Style Kitchen Ewa Beach

Krua Thai

L & L Hawaiian Franchise


Shiro & Assoc., Inc.

Sura Hawaii

United Rainbow Café

Wranglers Steakhouse

The HRA Vision
The Hawaii Restaurant Association is the organization unifying, representing and supporting the Hawaii restaurant and food service industry.

Mission Statement
To provide exceptional value through membership benefits, industry advocacy, community involvement, educational resources and networking opportunities.
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