2 isle restaurant companies get national rankings
IT IS AGAIN the time of year to mention Roy's restaurant and L&L Drive-Inn in the same sentence.
The two have reprised their standing as the only Hawaii restaurant companies on the Restaurants & Institutions magazine Top 400 Chains list for 2007, released this past week. Rankings are based on 2006 sales and/or unit growth.
Roy's dropped to 209 from 201 on the 2006 list, but it grew to 34 units, or locations, from 30 and sales were up to $135 million from $130 million the year earlier, according to a magazine estimate.
In 2005, Roy's was at 231 with an estimated $100 million from 30 units.
L&L appears with its mainland moniker, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, which is what the plate-luncheries are called in the other 49 states.
L&L is up five notches to 275 with sales of $80 million at 168 restaurants, up from No. 280 with $69.5 million from 139 units the year before. That was quite the rise from 2005, when it weighed in at No. 314 with $56 million from 112 locations.
Learning of the divergent dining destinations' joint appearance in R&I drew a warm, chuckling, "Oh my gosh," from Robbyn Shim, executive assistant to chef/owner Roy Yamaguchi.
The list cites Newport Beach, Calif., as Roy's headquarters, "probably because most of the mainland restaurants are owned by a joint venture," while the first-born Hawaii locations are locally owned, she said.
Roy's Web site advises guests to expect to spend about $45 a visit, considerably more than a plate lunch at L&L.
Even so, how much you like bet, Roy's back-o'-da-house crew enjoys brown gravy all over white rice just as much as the hamburger-steak connoisseurs who dine at L&L?
L&L co-founder and President Eddie Flores attributes its R&I rise to local support.
"Our advertising budgets are not big on the mainland," he said.
L&L doesn't do billboards, but buys some print and radio advertising.
"In L.A. it costs $20,000 for a couple weeks -- it's very expensive," Flores said.
"Local people are really the ambassadors for us up there (on the mainland)," Flores added. "When we open, we don't have to advertise and they bring their friends and relatives."
Word of mouth makes the restaurants successful, he said.
"People (also) know the difference between us and the copy cats ... the local people support L&L and I really appreciate that," Flores said.
Meanwhile, the long-delayed Lone Star State L&L should open in September, in Lewisville, Texas, within 25 miles of Dallas and Fort Worth.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com