NFIB Utah Member Profile: The Hungry Hawaiian

Date: March 15, 2022

Keni Aikau embodies a classic trait of a small-business owner

The determination to persevere when others have given up is one of the classic traits separating a small-business owner from others. Keni Aikau is the perfect embodiment of that quality.

As he says on his website, “Unable to secure financing or financial assistance we almost gave up, but the Lord blessed us with an amazing opportunity. That’s when we found the store front in Woods Cross. With no money, a ton of cooking experience, and a lot of perseverance, we opened our own restaurant, the Hungry Hawaiian, in the city of Woods Cross June 23, 2017. In October 2017, we acquired Uncle Bobby, our first food truck. Then, a little under two years later in August 2019, we built Lola.”

Aikau’s perseverance has paid off. In addition to his two food trucks and dine-in location in Woods Cross, he now has a second location in Provo, eight employees, and has seen a 35% yearly increase in revenues since launching his enterprises.

At NFIB’s annual Small Business Day at the Capitol, Grassroots Manager Taylor Criddle sat down with Aikau to learn more about him and his involvement with NFIB.

Q. How did you become a small-business owner?

A. I started by doing pop-ups throughout the area, then moved into a mobile food truck.

Q. Why did you become an NFIB member?

A. Didn’t realize how much politics plays in owning a business, and how much it affects payroll, health care, taxes, and other fees.

Q. In what ways has NFIB helped your small business?

A. NFIB informs me about current bills/laws that affect my business and has also helped teach me how the legislative process works. It also provides ways to talk to legislators directly.

Q. What’s the biggest challenge that faces local small-business owners like you?

A. I think Obamacare/health care is a big problem, as well as taxes and permits are a big issue for me.

Q. What advice would give new NFIB member to make the most of their membership?

A. Utilize the Action Alerts, surveys, events, and activism opportunities.

Q. What could help your industry grow?

A. Better understanding of permits and taxes for business. It can be a complicated and expensive process, especially for new small-business owners.

Q. What are you most proud about with your work in the community?

A. Feeding the homeless. All leftover food goes to the homeless.

Photo courtesy of the Hungry Hawaiian website


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