In 1976 Johnson Kam and Eddie Flores, Jr., both budding entrepreneurs, purchased the L&L Drive-Inn® on Liliha Street in Honolulu, Hawaii. Times were tough during the early years but Kam and Flores persevered with their work ethic and optimism.
The founders of the L&L Drive-Inn® decided to franchise and expand their operation in 1988. They were among the first to build a reputation of serving fresh plate lunches, in generous portions, and low prices across Hawaii with their very successful chain of L&L Drive-Inn® restaurants.
In late 1999, Kam and Flores introduced their L&L brand of plate lunches to the mainland in California. Anticipating the unfamiliarity of the plate lunch to the mainland, Flores brilliantly repackaged it as “L&L Hawaiian Barbecue®”. Why Hawaiian Barbecue(SM)? Flores explains, “When we went to the mainland, the name ‘Hawaiian’ is a draw, because everyone just fantasized, everyone wants to come to Hawaii”.
To understand the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue® concept, one must look back to the history of the food that L&L has branded as Hawaiian Barbecue(SM) – the Hawaiian plate lunch. The traditional Hawaiian plate lunch consists of two servings of rice, a serving of macaroni salad, and features a generous serving of a hot entrée (a smaller “mini” version of the traditional plate lunch consists of one serving of rice, a serving of macaroni salad, and a small serving of a hot entrée). L&L Hawaiian Barbecue’s® unique meal composition and signature brand of Asian and American fusion cuisine has helped it to stand out from the others that offer Hawaiian style cuisine. The L&L Hawaiian Barbecue® concept has spread like wild fire. Today there are close to 200 L&L restaurants in Hawaii, California, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Utah, Texas, New York, American Samoa, New Zealand and Japan.
The owners attribute their success to a decentralized system of ownership through franchises in which each restaurant is a separately incorporated profit center run by partners in the corporation or individual owners. Their success is furthermore enhanced by immersing customers with the Aloha spirit through their brightly colored interiors with scenic views of Hawaii and warm hospitality.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue’s® success has earned the company many awards and continued rankings in various local and national magazines. In 2002, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue® was named one of the “50 Regional Powerhouse Chains” by Nation’s Restaurant News. The July 2005 issue of Restaurant & Institutions Magazine ranked L&L #314 out of America’s top 400 restaurant chains. Additionally, Restaurant Business magazine ranked L&L #15 of its 50 Top Growth Chains in the Nation in 2005. Entrepreneur magazine has also ranked L&L’s parent company, L&L Franchise, Inc. at #165 out of the top 500 franchises in 2005.
L&L’s strong Hawaii roots provides the company the clout in being able to give customers an authentic Hawaiian taste and an authentic experience. And at the pace of growth of the franchise and the level of attention the company continues to receive, L&L has become the biggest thing to come out of Hawaii since surfing!