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If you’ve ever visited Hawaii, you may have come across the initials L&L on various restaurant signs and menus. L&L is a popular fast food chain that serves up tasty Hawaiian plate lunches across the islands. But what exactly does L&L stand for and how did this local restaurant become a staple of Hawaiian cuisine?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: L&L stands for ‘Local Food by Local People’. It references the focus on authentic, locally-sourced Hawaiian ingredients at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue restaurants.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into the full history behind the L&L name and brand. We’ll explore the founders, origins, menu items, expansion, and cultural significance of this iconic Hawaiian eatery. Whether you’re visiting Hawaii soon or just curious about local culture, read on to learn all about the meaning of L&L in the Aloha State.

The Origins and Founders of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

When it comes to Hawaiian cuisine, one name that stands out is L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. But have you ever wondered what “L&L” actually stands for? Let’s take a journey through the origins and founders of this iconic chain.

The first L&L opens in Hawaii in 1976

The story of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue begins in 1976, when the first restaurant opened its doors in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was founded by Johnson Kam and Eddie Flores Sr., two entrepreneurs with a passion for serving delicious and authentic Hawaiian food. This small eatery quickly became popular among locals and tourists alike, thanks to its flavorful dishes and warm hospitality.

Eddie Flores Jr. and Johnson Kam buy the chain in 1982

In 1982, Eddie Flores Jr. and Johnson Kam took over the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue chain. As dedicated businessmen, they saw the potential for growth and expansion. Under their leadership, the chain began to flourish, attracting more customers and gaining recognition for its unique blend of Hawaiian and Asian flavors.

Rapid expansion in the 1990s and 2000s

The 1990s and 2000s marked a period of rapid expansion for L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. With the opening of new locations across the United States and even internationally, the chain became a household name. From California to New York, people couldn’t get enough of L&L’s mouthwatering barbecue plates, musubi, and other Hawaiian specialties.

Today, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue continues to be a beloved fixture in the Hawaiian food scene, with over 200 locations worldwide. Its success can be attributed to the dedication and passion of its founders, as well as the commitment to serving high-quality, authentic Hawaiian cuisine.

For more information about L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and their menu offerings, visit their official website

The Menu and Cuisine of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

When you step into an L&L Hawaiian Barbecue restaurant, you are greeted with the tantalizing aroma of mouthwatering Hawaiian cuisine. L&L, which stands for Lui’s and Lee’s, is a popular chain of restaurants that specialize in serving delicious Hawaiian plate lunches and barbecue.

Plate lunches as the signature dish

At L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, plate lunches are the star of the menu. These hearty meals typically consist of a protein, such as chicken, beef, or seafood, served with rice and macaroni salad. The plate lunches at L&L are influenced by the diverse culinary traditions of Hawaii, including Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and Polynesian flavors.

Staple mains like chicken katsu and kalua pork

When it comes to the main dishes, L&L offers a variety of mouthwatering options. One of the most popular choices is the chicken katsu, a crispy breaded chicken cutlet served with a tangy katsu sauce. Another crowd favorite is the kalua pork, a tender and flavorful dish made by slow-cooking seasoned pork in an underground oven known as an “imu”.

Classic sides like mac salad and rice

No plate lunch is complete without the classic sides of macaroni salad and rice. L&L takes pride in their creamy and flavorful mac salad, which perfectly complements the rich and savory main dishes. The rice served at L&L is fluffy and perfectly cooked, providing a satisfying base for the flavorful meats and sauces.

Signature Hawaii-inspired flavors

What sets L&L Hawaiian Barbecue apart is their unique blend of Hawaii-inspired flavors. From the tangy and sweet teriyaki sauce to the smoky and rich flavors of the kalua pork, each bite at L&L is a taste of the islands. The restaurant also offers a variety of sauces and condiments to enhance the flavors even further, such as their famous chili pepper water.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor to Hawaii, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the diverse and delicious flavors of Hawaiian cuisine. So next time you find yourself craving a plate lunch or some mouthwatering barbecue, head over to L&L and indulge in the flavors of the islands!

The Meaning and Significance of the L&L Name

Standing for ‘Local Food by Local People’

When you see the initials L&L in Hawaii, it stands for ‘L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.’ The name itself holds a special significance as it represents the restaurant’s commitment to serving local food made by local people. L&L started as a small drive-in in Honolulu back in 1976 and has since grown into a popular chain across the islands and mainland United States. The founders, Eddie Flores Jr. and Johnson Kam, wanted to create a place where they could share their love for Hawaiian cuisine with the community.

Emphasizing Hawaiian Identity and Community

One of the key reasons behind the success of L&L is its emphasis on Hawaiian identity and community. The founders wanted to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone, whether they were locals or visitors. The L&L restaurants often feature Hawaiian-themed decor, and the staff is known for their warm hospitality. By embracing the island’s culture and incorporating it into their brand, L&L has become a beloved institution in Hawaii.

Appealing to Locals with Island-Style Dishes

L&L’s menu is filled with mouthwatering island-style dishes that appeal to locals and visitors alike. From traditional Hawaiian plate lunches to Spam musubi, loco moco, and kalua pork, L&L offers a wide variety of options that showcase the flavors of Hawaii. These dishes are often made with locally sourced ingredients, further supporting the local economy and fostering a sense of community.

So the next time you see L&L in Hawaii, remember that it stands for ‘Local Food by Local People.’ It represents a commitment to serving delicious Hawaiian cuisine and embracing the island’s culture and community. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, L&L is a great place to experience the flavors of Hawaii and immerse yourself in its rich culinary heritage.

The Branding and Marketing of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

When you think of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, you may wonder what the “L&L” stands for. Well, it’s actually short for “Lunch and Love.” This unique name reflects the brand’s commitment to serving delicious food with a side of aloha spirit. But the branding and marketing of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue go far beyond just its name.

Colorful, playful logo and branding

One of the first things you’ll notice about L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is its colorful and playful logo. The logo features a smiling cartoon character holding a plate of food, which immediately conveys a sense of joy and happiness. This fun and inviting branding continue throughout the restaurant’s decor, menu, and marketing materials. The use of vibrant colors and playful Hawaiian-inspired designs create an atmosphere that is both welcoming and memorable.

Targeting Hawaiians craving a taste of home

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue has successfully targeted Hawaiians living away from the islands who are craving a taste of home. By offering a menu filled with beloved Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pork, loco moco, and spam musubi, L&L has tapped into the nostalgia and longing for familiar flavors. This targeted approach has resonated with Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike, creating a loyal customer base that appreciates the authentic taste of Hawaii.

Expanding beyond Hawaii to the mainland U.S.

While L&L Hawaiian Barbecue started as a small restaurant in Honolulu, it has since expanded beyond Hawaii to the mainland U.S. Today, you can find L&L locations in various states across the country. This expansion has been driven by the brand’s ability to adapt to local tastes while staying true to its Hawaiian roots. By offering a unique fusion of Hawaiian and mainland American flavors, L&L has successfully introduced its cuisine to a wider audience and gained popularity across different regions.

The Future and Impact of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, also known as L&L Drive-Inn, has been a beloved establishment in Hawaii for decades. With its unique blend of flavors and commitment to preserving Hawaiian food culture, L&L has become a staple in the local community. As the brand continues to grow, it is important to consider the future and impact of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

Continuing growth and new locations

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue has experienced tremendous growth over the years, expanding beyond its original location in Honolulu. Today, there are over 200 L&L locations worldwide, with franchises in the United States, Japan, China, and other countries. This growth has allowed L&L to introduce their delicious Hawaiian cuisine to a wider audience, spreading the aloha spirit and sharing the flavors of the islands.

Looking ahead, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue shows no signs of slowing down. With new locations constantly popping up, more people will have the opportunity to experience the unique taste of L&L. This expansion not only benefits the brand but also contributes to the local economies by creating job opportunities and supporting local farmers and suppliers.

Preserving Hawaiian food culture and tradition

At the heart of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a commitment to preserving Hawaiian food culture and tradition. The menu features classic dishes like loco moco, kalua pork, and spam musubi, all of which are deeply rooted in Hawaiian culinary heritage. By offering these traditional dishes, L&L helps to keep the flavors and techniques of Hawaiian cooking alive.

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue also supports local farmers and suppliers, sourcing fresh ingredients from the islands. This not only ensures the authenticity and quality of their food but also contributes to the sustainability of Hawaii’s agricultural industry. By prioritizing local sourcing, L&L plays a vital role in preserving the unique flavors and ingredients that make Hawaiian cuisine so special.

Remaining a go-to for plate lunches

One of the reasons why L&L Hawaiian Barbecue has become so popular is its commitment to providing delicious and affordable plate lunches. These hearty meals typically consist of a protein, rice, and macaroni salad, offering a satisfying and filling dining experience. Plate lunches have become an iconic part of Hawaiian food culture, and L&L continues to be a go-to destination for locals and visitors alike.

As L&L Hawaiian Barbecue looks to the future, it is clear that the brand will continue to have a significant impact on the culinary landscape of Hawaii. By expanding their reach, preserving Hawaiian food culture, and remaining a go-to for plate lunches, L&L will continue to delight taste buds and spread the aloha spirit for years to come.


For over 40 years, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue has served as a staple source of quick, tasty local food across Hawaii. While the chain has expanded far beyond its roots, it remains committed to serving up authentic Hawaiian flavors and living up to its name: ‘Local Food by Local People’.

The story of L&L showcases how a homegrown restaurant can grow into an internationally recognized brand without losing sight of its cultural identity. With its hearty portions, signature katsu and kalua pork plates, and special Hawaii-inspired touches, L&L continues to satisfy cravings for Hawaiian cuisine wherever its locations pop up.

So next time you spot those familiar L&L letters, you can appreciate the meaningful history behind this beloved island chain. Just one bite of a mouthwatering plate lunch or whiff of sweet chili chicken will transport you straight to the Hawaiian islands!

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