Franchising Today - Summer 2016 - 80
L&L HAWAIIAN BARBECUE
www.hawaiianbarbecue.com / HQ: Honolulu / Employees: 2,500 / Eddie Flores Jr.,
president and co-founder: "When you join us, you become part of our 'ohana.'"
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue has more than
200 locations around the world, but sees
plenty of room for expansion.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is taking its unique cuisine
far beyond its island origins. BY JIM HARRIS
The opening of a new L&L
Hawaiian Barbecue is usually a major
event. When the franchise opened its
first location outside of its namesake
state in 1999, hundreds of people were
waiting outside despite limited advertising or promotion.
Many of the people waiting outside
that restaurant in California were already aware of the brand, which had
opened more than 40 franchises in
Hawaii at that point. "We were a name
brand in Hawaii, and people from Hawaii are very loyal to us," says Eddie
Flores Jr., the franchise's president
and co-founder. "We opened our first
mainland franchise in California because of the number of people originally from Hawaii."
Recently, a new L&L Hawaiian Barbecue in Dallas had more than 100
people waiting at the door as a result
of word-of-mouth. The only advance
promotion was an interview Flores
had done with a Hawaii radio station.
"Our greatest strength is our brand,"
Flores says. "If you talk to anyone
from Hawaii, they know our brand."
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue originated in
1976, when Flores and partner Johnson Kam purchased the L&L Drive
Inn, a restaurant located a block away
from Flores' home in Honolulu. The
restaurant was given to Flores' mother as a gift, as Flores and his partner at
the time had concentrated their business efforts in real estate, with a focus
on acquiring and selling restaurants
Flores assumed control of the business in 1990 and decided to expand
the franchise. All locations at the time
used the L&L Drive-Inn branding.
"Our system was very unique early
on, because we would find a location,
build it up and then sell it to our employees," Flores says, noting that
many early franchisees were Chinese