L&L joins the stampede into steak plate business


POSTED: Friday, August 14, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

The ubiquitous L&L Drive-Inn and its mainland L&L Hawaiian Barbecue counterpart are going to get into the steak plate business.

“;The reason is, there seems to be a demand,”; said L&L co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Eddie Flores, noting the proliferation of mobile, kiosk and in-line steak plateries at strip malls and other retail complexes over the past several years.

“;We are going to follow the trend to be competitive,”; Flores said.

L&L will differentiate its steak plate by serving “;top sirloin, which is high quality,”; along with two scoops of rice and a scoop of macaroni salad, he said.

It will introduce its steak plates from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday during one of L&L's usual, long-line-generating events at the Keeaumoku Street store inside Wal-Mart - by selling the first 1,000 plates for $1 and offering medium-size Pepsi soft drinks for 10 cents.

Additionally, the first 20 customers will receive a ticket for an upcoming concert by Ten Feet.

The first 300 customers can also get a $200 discount coupon for a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Manila.

Flores invites dollar-diners and others to donate to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, given the budget cuts that have racked the program.

The Kahala, Ward Center and Iwilei L&Ls will also collect donations for HHSAA.

“;We're doing the first 1,000 as kind of appreciation for customers,”; Flores said.

From a strictly business perspective, though, with all the grilled steak plate joints popping up - and there are dozens of business registrations for such operations - “;it's competition. We have to come out swinging. We can't just sit there and let people shoot us,”; Flores said.

One of the steak-wielding competitors firing the shots is Richard Craft Jr. “;I have some stores right next to them,”; he said on the phone, his grin practically audible.

Craft is the Hawaii-based businessman behind the 17-unit Blazin' Steaks concept, which started out from a tent on Kapiolani Boulevard outside 24-Hour Fitness about 4-1/2 years ago. It serves “;tri-tip, a little more expensive, with marbling through it,”; he said.

(He is not the namesake behind the high-end Craftsteak restaurants in New York City and Las Vegas and at the Foxwoods Resort in Connecticut. Mainland celebrity chef and “;Top Chef”; judge Tom Colicchio is behind that venture.)

At first, Craft sold $6 plates that included eight ounces of steak, two scoops of rice, tossed salad and a drink.

The drink is no longer included. “;We couldn't absorb that cost any longer,”; though tax is still included.

L&L's $6 plate won't include a drink, either.

Craft has another five stores opening within the next few months in Ewa Beach, Pearlridge Downtown, Enchanted Lake in Kailua and in Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

His first neighbor island store opened in Hilo two years ago - and his second location on the island is in a staggeringly large, 6,000-square-foot space in Waikoloa Resort formerly occupied by Big Island Steak House.

“;It's a full restaurant with an upstairs bar, and we're in the process of getting a liquor license,”; he said. He is also seeking liquor licenses for his Kunia Shopping Center location as well as for the new Pearl City location at 425 Kamehameha Highway. As it is adjacent to Easy Music Center and some sort of synergy seems smack-you-in-the-face obvious, Craft is seeking the type of license that will allow for live music at the store.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).





        » The 300 discount coupons L&L Drive-Inn will give away at its Tuesday steak-plate launch will be good for $200 off a round-trip to Manila on Hawaiian Airlines. Originally, this article had incorrect information.