Restaurant continues to provide free meals to community stranded on Kauai's north shore

WAINIHA, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - A restaurant in Wainiha has been providing free meals to residents and visitors stranded on Kauai's North Shore since day one of a historic flooding disaster that began earlier this month.

The Opakapaka Grill and Bar, located next to the Hanalei Colony Resort, opened for business in August. Owner Gregg Fraser says the morning after the record-breaking rainfall, he went to go check on the restaurant – and found as many as 40 people waiting on his doorstep.

"The people that were finding shelter in the front entry of my restaurant had either lost their home, lost their vehicles that they were sleeping in or had been camping out on the trail," Fraser says. "I opened the door, let everybody in, let them dry off, let them change and do what they could. I made them coffee and started cooking breakfast."

Fraser hasn't closed his doors since; the restaurant is also feeding first responders, volunteers, and students at the new satellite classrooms at the Hanalei Colony Resort.

"We do about 300-400 breakfasts every day. Then the dinners, we're doing again about 300 dinners every night," Fraser said.

Fraser says most of the food being cooked is coming from donations from around the state.

He says he's getting a lot of help from volunteers, since half of his staff is on the opposite side of the road closures.

"The other half of my staff that lives on this side, they are all still on payroll, they're all still showing up every day and they're all working side-by-side with a number of volunteers," said Fraser. "I've got people that I've just met this week that are in my restaurant washing dishes, sweeping floors, and cooking food, so its an amazing thing to be a part of."

Tourism leaders say the restaurant, as well as the Hanalei Colony Resort, have been lifesavers during this chaotic time.

"Gregg did a great job on that first Wainiha landslide, when they were cut off and he was really the support for food. I'm hoping that they'll get some of those dollars coming in because they deserve it," said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

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