CHICO — One of Chico’s most popular restaurants, Hula’s Chinese Bar-BQ, reopened its doors to worried customers on Monday after previous owner Linda Storey decided to retire during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After seeing Mongolian Grill for sale, on April 13, Jeff and Lisa Hill decided to buy the restaurant from the store.
“The business model is a great business model, and not only is it an iconic Chico restaurant that we originally had the opportunity to save and we didn’t want to see anyone else get in the way,” owner Jeff Hill said Tuesday.
Hula hours are 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, and Jeff Hill said the only thing stopping the restaurant from opening for lunch is the current staff shortage. He said Hula has waitresses and hostesses, but they need more dishwashers, food bar people and cooks.
While the food remains largely the same, the Hills remodeled the interior of the restaurant, delaying the opening. The owners had planned to reopen the restaurant in August, but due to equipment delays and people repairing delays, the couple opened the doors on Monday. At one point the wait time for opening night reached three hours, but Jeff Hill said customer responses have been upbeat.
He said he thanked as many customers as he could for their support and even told some that he wasn’t sure he could wait himself.
“I appreciated it, and Hula just has a cult following that’s unique to Chico’s and so we wanted to be a part of it and reopen it,” Jeff Hill said.
Tuesday, the restaurant’s second day open, first customer Jenny Beaman lines up at 3 p.m., an hour before hula opens at 4 p.m. Beaman and her family have been coming to hula for 15 years. As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, 30 minutes before opening, Hula had a line of about 20 groups of people with 3-5 people each.
Beaman’s daughter Janice McCutcheon said her enthusiasm level was “off the charts”. McCutchen said she loves food and the concept is perfect for her 11-year-old son, Samuel McCutchen, whom Beamon said is a very picky eater.
The concept of the new hula is the same as that driven by Story, with customers stacking bowls of different meats, vegetables, sauces and noodles before handing their trays to a cook, who grills the ingredients together before returning them to the customer. Is. Fried wontons, spring rolls, and soup are offered for dine-in order.
The only food you can eat for dine-in orders. For on-going orders each customer can pack as much food as possible and stack the bowls as many times as possible once through the line.
The new kitchen manager is brought in, Logan Dunn, a former Hula cook who left for the kitchen of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company before returning to Hula’s new ownership. Dunn’s father is a former general manager of Hula.
“(Logan) wanted to come back and see it a success and be a part of it, and we’re definitely happy to have him,” Jeff Hill said.
The new hula has seen an increase in price, with some members of the community expressing concern on social media. Dinner now costs $22.95. Jeff Hill said that instead of increasing the cost, Hula initially raised its costs in hopes of not changing “for too long”.
The Hills has upgraded the quality of the meat, which Jeff Hill said comes at a price the family thinks is worth the change in price.
Jeff and Lisa Hill are not the first time restaurant owners, having opened Hillbilly Haven in Orland nearly 10 years ago and opted to close the restaurant to focus on raising a family. Lisa Hill also has other food industry experience, having served with the Live Oak School District for the past 20 years as director of food service.
Jeff Hill said his wife has learned to make the most of her job at Live Oak, but the couple has learned better together buying food and equipment. He added that the owners of this restaurant focus more on the business side of running the restaurant, whereas in their previous restaurants they focused more on completing the meal.
Hula’s Chinese Bar-BQ, which previously had a second location at the corner of Esplanade and West East Avenue, will only operate at the 1937 E. 20th St. spot in the Target Shopping Center.
Jeff Hill said he has spent hours on Google trying to update the restaurant’s new phone number, but has been unsuccessful. Hula can be reached by phone at 715-7614.