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Palm Desert restaurant opens during the pandemic

In a time when many restaurants have had to close their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic, one is opening up in Palm Desert.

Hula's, a taste of Hawaii, opened this week at The Village at University Park, on Cook Street in Palm Desert.

Opening a restaurant during a pandemic is not ideal, but for the owners at Hula’s, it’s the “Aloha Spirit” that’s kept them going.

“The Aloha Spirit is not only enthusiasm, not only love, it’s a sharing of life. It’s a sharing of our food,” said Jerry Wong. Jerry and his wife Sandra are the owners of Hula's.

The Hawaii natives have opened restaurants in Colombia and North Dakota. Now settled in the Coachella Valley, the couple celebrates the grand opening of their third Asian Hawaiian Barbecue.

“We like making people happy and our food is happy food,” Jerry Wong said.

A project they’ve been planning for over a year finally coming to fruition. Jerry says he missed interacting with the customers.

“We love when they go, ‘Wow,’ and we can see that,” said Jerry Wong.

Jerry Wong’s friend and a longtime Palm Desert resident came out to show support.

“After eating the food and seeing the menu, it looked like something different than we had seen in the Valley, so we thought, ‘it might work!’ So, I think it will work. The food is excellent and they seem to be dedicated,” said Ron Millspaugh, a resident of the Coachella Valley for the past 44 years.

Another woman, who works in the same plaza at Desert Oasis Healthcare, stopped by for some takeout at lunch.

“I knew they were opening today and I had to come. Something new, something new to try. So I’m super excited, I’ve never been to a hula restaurant before, but I’m really super excited,” Martha Betts said.

In the same week as Hula’s grand opening, it was announced that the 300,000 square foot sports and entertainment arena was moving locations. It’s now being built about a mile away.

“That’s two years down the line, but we’re very excited that it’s another opportunity and we’ve really been blessed, and that’s just another blessing,” said Jerry Wong.

The Wong’s are confident their restaurant will succeed because they believe in their food, crafted by Sandra herself.

“I guess we’re just positive people, we always have been,” said Jerry Wong.

“He’s always been positive and he has that energy to keep going, you know,” Sandra Wong said.

The grand opening might have been delayed a few months because of the pandemic, but there was never a question for the owners of Hula’s as to whether they would decide to continue with opening the restaurant.

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Taylor Begley

Taylor Begley is a Sports Anchor and Reporter for KESQ News Channel 3. You can also catch her anchoring weather on the weekends. Learn more about Taylor here.

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