The founder of L&L Hawaiian Barbeque, Eddie Flores Jr., has a great deal to be thankful for. He moved to Hawaii from China and as a young entrepreneur, found success early on in the real estate industry. But it was the gift of a restaurant to his mom that set the stage for his incredible success story.
“I was in the real estate business,” said Flores Jr. “I made enough money and I decided to buy a restaurant and gave it as a gift to my mother. We were an immigrant family. She had no education. Same as my dad. So, they worked in the restaurant. They were so happy.”
After three years, Flores Jr. jokingly explains why his parents got out of the restaurant business, “the story is, when it started making money I got rid of them.”
Now he and his daughter Elisia, who’s taken the reigns as CEO, will own 200 franchise restaurants by the end of 2019, 65 of those in Hawaii. New stores are set to open in Nanakuli and Pahoa. Plus, the Hawaiian-inspired restaurant chain is coming out with a new concept designed by Elisia called L&L Hawaiian Mix Plate.
“We’re opening up in Shelton, Washington, San Marcos, San Diego and Aurora, Colorado,” said Flores. “We wanted to offer something new and a little refreshed and modernized. So, it still has all the elements of a plate lunch. You can still get two scoops rice and a side, whether it’s mac salad or garlic edamame. And, you can still choose your entrée but we have new items, such as garlic chicken.”
Flores Jr. is grateful that customers keep coming back for more.
“I am very thankful because I have a lot of people helping me,” said Flores Jr. “My wife, my kids, my friends, Johnson Kam. Everyone has been so helpful, the community. L&L would never be successful without the local people supporting us in the mainland.”
About Eddie Flores Jr.: The former L&L Dairy (opened in the 1950s by members of the Lee family, representing L&L’s original location on Liliha Street) was purchased in 1976 by Eddie Flores Jr. An immigrant from Hong Kong, Flores came to Hawaii with his family to study at the University of Hawaii. He bought the restaurant as a gift for his mother, Margaret, a restaurant dishwasher and cashier, and continued his career in real estate.
When Flores’ mom decided to step away from the business, Flores teamed up with friend Johnson Kam. Kam went on to run the original location for a decade until the early 1990′s when he teamed with Flores to form L&L Franchise Inc. After a successful expansion to more than 40 restaurants throughout the state, Flores and Kam set their sights on the U.S. mainland. To provide a better sense of what L&L offered to customers outside Hawaii, L&L Drive-Inn, Flores renamed the cuisine “Hawaiian Barbecue” to help patrons become familiar with the cuisine. Since then, L&L has served as the leader in popularizing Hawaii and Asian fusion flavors around the U.S. and internationally as “Hawaiian Barbecue” – a term that has become synonymous with the plate lunch of Hawaii. Guests have been known to travel for hours to enjoy L&L’s trademark “Original Hawaiian Barbecue.”
About Elisia Flores: Elisia joined L&L in 2014 as chief financial officer after 8 years in senior finance roles with General Electric. She was appointed CEO and Vice Chair in 2019. She has managed several major company initiatives, including the development and launch of L&L Hawaiian Mix Plate, a build-your-own plate lunch experience launched in 2019.
Elisia previously worked as a corporate auditor at General Electric, performing auditing and consulting work globally across multiple GE subsidiaries. She was promoted to a senior finance manager position, overseeing a portfolio of assets with annual revenue in excess of $750 million.
Elisia is a co-author of the book “108 Tips on Business, Travel, and Culture in China,” as well as multiple real estate education courses. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, and an Executive MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles.