Business

Burger joint brings slice of Hawaii to Belfast

Big Chiefs’ Paul De Francisci and Patrick Gray raise a glass to Kua ‘Aina at Victoria Square

LONDON-based Hawaiian burger bar Kua 'Aina has opened its first outlet in Northern Ireland.

The restaurant at Victoria Square in Belfast has created 30 new jobs.

For owners Paul De Francisci and Patrick Gray it is viewed as a homecoming with both men originally hailing from the north.

Kua ‘Aina is inspired by the iconic Hawaiian burger and sandwich grill bearing the same name on Hawaii's North Shore.

“While we opened our first Kua ‘Aina restaurant in London, our Belfast opening symbolises two Northern Irish boys bring their business home,” said Mr De Francisci.

“We look forward to bringing a taste of Hawaii's North Shore to Belfast in our fun, vibrant and laid-back restaurant.”

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.”

Operations chief Patrick Gray said they wanted to keep 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,” he said.

“Our lava-grilled 100 per cent 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.”

Meanwhile US chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries also opened its first eaterie in Ireland yesterday, also at Victoria Square.

Store manage Nelson Shanks and his team of five assistant managers spent a month in the States training and experiencing the Five Guys culture, and six Five Guys trainers have been flown over to teach the new Belfast crew all they need to know.

Since opening in America in 1986, Five Guys has grown to over 1,200 outlets in the US and Canada. In 2013, it opened its first international restaurant in London's Convent Garden and there's now 35 Five Guys restaurants operating in the UK.

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