Enlightened Hospitality Group Opens Olubugo in Entebbe
By Ron James, WDSD Reporter
Enlightened Hospitality Group (EHGRP), the San Diego-based restaurant and hospitality group founded by James Brennan and Brian Malarkey, announced the Grand Opening of Olubugo restaurant in Uganda.
The duo have partnered with Aidchild, a non-profit organization that provides homes, academies, clinics and laboratory support for children and families in Uganda, East Africa. As the first overseas project, EHGRP is entirely funding the opening of Olubugo (oh-loo-BOO-go) restaurant in Uganda.
Keeping with the cloth names of it's popular restaurants, Olubugo is a fabric handmade from a renewable resource, the bark of the Mutuba tree. The fabric's rich history in Ugandan culture includes traditional symbolism related to grief, but over recent years its organic beauty has been employed by artists, designers and society as a whole for a variety of uses and creations.
Working with local Ugandan builders, contractors and under the consulting mentorship of EHGRP’s leading hospitality designer, Thomas Schoos, the restaurant’s purpose, in addition to providing jobs for surrounding residents and stimulating the local economy, is to donate all proceeds from Olubugo straight to the foundation for children's services.
Serving up samples of the restaurant's "Ocean Bazaar" cuisine and specialty cocktails made by Snake Oil Cocktail Co., highlights from the party included the official announcement of Enlightened Hospitality Group's first overseas project - Olubugo Restaurant in Uganda, East Africa. Enlightened Hospitality Group is entirely funding the opening of the restaurant which will provide jobs for surrounding residents and stimulate the local economy based mostly on tourism and business commuters.
Aidchild is an organization very near and dear to the heart of Brennan. In 2011 Brennan was introduced to Nathaniel Dunigan, Aidchild’s Founder, on the campus of the University of San Diego, his alma mater. Dunigan established Aidchild in 2000 as a hospice center in Uganda for orphans living with AIDS who did not have the care of extended family. Aidchild was the first in the country to provide free antiretroviral medication to children living with AIDS. After hearing Nathaniel’s touching story about his time in Uganda and the incredible services Aidchild’s Ugandan team provides, James was inspired to join the fight. The two set up a meeting shortly after to discuss effective ways to partner and Olubugo quickly came to life.
"I immediately recognized James' entrepreneurial spirit and his sense of active compassion,” says Dunigan. “Many people respond to global needs with compassion, but a special few are willing to take the risks required in take action and make a difference."
Olubugo marks the 4th Aidchild-operated restaurant to open in Uganda. The Equation Gallery, an art gallery and café on the Equator line in Uganda was the first income-generating project started by Aidchild that fostered self-sustainability and community development in Africa, exactly on the Equator line. Ten Tables Restaurant, an Aidchild restaurant and screening room in Masaka, Uganda, was the second to open, and features an executive screening room and a wrap-around Moroccan-style balcony along with a signature “Hopper Happy Hour,” serving the region’s favorite snack specialty, fried grasshoppers. The most recent project is Aidchild’s Terrace Club, a rooftop barbecue venue and boutique hostel, the latter which will open later this year).
While funding and opening Olubugo has long been a vision for EHGRP, the group has already been supporting Aidchild on a local basis for the last year by utilizing the Vivreau system to supply its guests with environmentally friendly mineral water. Each Fabric of Social Dining restaurant – Searsucker, Burlap, Gabardine, Gingham and newly opened Herringbone – gives guests the option to enjoy premium fresh water for just $1 while simultaneously donating to a cause that provides clean water, food and shelter to those in need. In turn, EHGRP donates 100% of its mineral water sales to Aidchild.