Huggo’s opened in 1969 as a casual, gathering spot where you could get a good steak, a slab of fresh fish and pile it on at the salad bar. With its waterfront location, it proved to be a favorite haunt for local fisherman who gathered to share a salty tale or two. In the 50 years since, it has earned a reputation as Kona’s premiere restaurant for fresh seafood, oceanfront ambiance and casual elegance.
Steering Huggo’s on its course were founders Hugo and Shirley von Platen Luder who ran the restaurant with the motto “good food and good fun”. The couple introduced Huggo’s now famous Teriyaki Steak and was one of the first local restaurants to set up daily communications with the fleet of boat captains in the area to insure they served only the freshest fish available. With the use of cell phones, this practice is continued today. More often than not the fish you are having for dinner may have been caught just hours before being served. Huggo’s practices the farm to table philosophy of procurement and sources as many products as possible form local farmers and fishermen.
Eric credits his parents for instilling in him the foundation for success in the restaurant industry. The goal at Huggo’s has been and continues to be “to provide a memorable evening and dining experience rather than simply a meal.” The menu shares the limelight with Huggo’s open-air location that “seems to suspend over the ocean” and is a stage for seaside diversions.
While menu items like Teriyaki Steak die hard, Eric and Huggo’s Chef are continually updating Huggo’s menu to reap the best of the local harvest, whether from the sea or the shore. Huggo’s focuses on just-caught fish using a Hawaiian Regional Cuisine style of preparation, innovative chicken fare, salad offerings that utilize the Big Isle’s fresh bounty and desserts that offer a grand finale to a satisfying repast.
With a never-ending sea breeze, it makes sense that fresh fish definitely headlines the menu at Huggo’s. The Kona Poke appetizer is to-die-for with its zesty Chili Marinade. Entrees like the Crab-Crusted Ono and the Maui Onion Crusted Ahi wow both ka’amaina and visitors alike. Huggo’s continues to garner accolades from readers of local publications where it has been voted to have the “Best Dining Atmosphere,” “Best Desserts,” “Best Fish/Seafood” and declared “A Best Restaurant in the Islands.”
Creative contemporary fare like the Grilled Chicken with Tamarind-Orange Glaze was featured in Bon Appetit magazine when Huggo’s was named “One of the Nation’s Top Neighborhood Restaurants.”
The Ginger Creme Brulee is becoming a favorite Huggo’s dessert choice, especially when accompanied by a 100 percent French-pressed Kona Coffee. Huggo’s features a new boutique Kona Coffee every few weeks. Also popular is our Hualalai Ice Cream Pie made with Kona Coffee Ice Cream and Chocolate Cookie Crust. It’s topped with Fudge and Whipped Cream.
Huggo’s has added hBAR to its seaside offerings. Complementing Huggo’s sea-to-plate dinner menu, hBAR serves up handcrafted cocktails and a complete small plate menu. The vibe? Kona lounge cool.
The addition of hBAR sets a new standard and reflects the changing wishes of its customers. A focus sets on new design elements including custom lounge seating with booths and couches, making a toast to Kona’s famous sunsets a must.
At the center of attention are exciting handcrafted cocktails such as the “Classic Mai Tai”. It’s the only truly authentic, from scratch Mai Tai on the Big Island, highlighted with a secret almond syrup recipe. In addition, hBAR features an eclectic variety of house made syrups and liquors infused with herbs, fruits, vegetables, meats, and/or nuts – all topped off with fresh squeezed tropical juices. The extensive range of unique liqueurs is sure to please even the most discriminating palate. Add in passionate hBAR mixologists, a dash of aloha and a picturesque setting, and you’re off to a great start to your evening.
hBAR offers small plates, daily specials and, for those with a heartier appetite, the full Huggo’s menu service. hBAR opens at 4 pm every day. Sophisticated handcrafted cocktails, laid back sunsets and late-night fun make hBAR Kona’s perfect new oceanfront lounge.
Also enjoy lunch and dinner next door at On the Rocks, where the menu focuses on lighter fare and cocktails. It’s where you can munch barefoot in the sand and enjoy live Hawaiian music and hula. The Rocks also has its own horseshoe-shaped bar.
Whether looking for a romantic rendezvous or a place to schmooze a business buddy, Huggo’s has it all ~ seaside location, balmy breezes, expert service and cuisine that refuses to compromise.
About our founder – Hugo von Platen Luder
Huggo’s founder and Hawaii native, Hugo von Platen Luder’s path to becoming Hawaii Island restaurateur extraordinaire was circuitous literally and figuratively speaking! When he was 14, Punahou School sponsored a summer travel program called “The Rover Boys”, that took 30 students, via buses, to tour 36 of the 48 States. Then at the age of 16, his parents allowed him a break from the prestigious Punahou School on Oahu for an adventure of a lifetime. They sent him off to circle the globe on a Merchant Steamer, out of Honolulu, under the close watch of the ship’s captain and doctor.
Upon his return Oahu, he set out again! This time leaving Punahou for the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. He went on from there to study briefly at the University of Houston before enlisting in the United State Marine Corps for a three year tour. After serving his country, Hugo, using the G.I. Bill, continued his studies in Ranch Management at CalPoly Technical Institute in San Luis Obispo, California.
After spending several years away from the Islands, Hugo returned home upon his father’s death in December 1957. He had worked for Standard Oil Company on Oahu in the downtown office for several years when he turned down a promotion. What was the deal breaker?? The promotion came with a transfer to San Francisco tied to it — he was back in the Islands to stay!!
Moving from big oil to fashion, he took his growing management skills to Hawaii’s prominent clothing manufacturer, Kahala Sportswear, before making the move back to his beloved Hawaii Island. Back home, he put his impressive background and experience to work in sales, retail, and construction. From selling jeeps, assisting his mother at her popular Kailua-Kona dress shop, to being a “labor pusher” on the Mauna Kea Beach Resort Project in the early 60’s. Hugo was on his way to establishing a well-earned reputation for doing just about everything and doing it with great success.
No one was surprised, then, when he left the construction industry in the late 60’s to build and operate the now legendary Huggo’s Restaurant with his equally entrepreneurial wife, Shirley, on a prime waterfront property in the heart of Kailua-Kona. To ensure their chefs had the freshest of fish possible, Huggo and Shirley also owned and operated a sports fishing charter boat, the “Chiripa”. Today, 50 years later, Huggo’s is still family owned with son, Eric von Platen Luder at the helm since 1982.
With one eye always on the restaurant business, Huggo was ready for more adventures — one that included one of his most enduring passions – horses. As a young boy, he spent much time on and working at the Shipman ranches on the slopes of Mauna Kea - riding the open grasslands up mauka. At this time, he and Shirley began acquiring and breeding a band of running Quarter Horse broodmares on the Mainland. According to Huggo, “A few of the foals did quite well running in the AA and AAA classes worldwide.” One in particular, Ali’i Bar, became the Champion of Champions in Brazil. During this 1980’s timeframe, the couple also ventured into oil. During that decade’s infamous oil crisis, they established an oil drilling business at “Four Corners” on the Mainland with wells that produced more than 300 barrels a day going for $40 to $50 a barrel.
With more energy to burn, and ranching still alive and well in their veins, they made the move into the cattle business on the Big Island. Having been brought up on island ranches Hugo was always looking at cows and Shirley being of Texas with ranching in her blood it was a natural venture for both. For 25 years, they marketed 400 to 500 feeder cattle a year. Now, as they enjoy retirement, both Shirley and Hugo continue to assist son Eric and his ever-growing restaurant ventures.