Elisia Flores runs a business while serving on multiple boards

His family has built a successful nationwide restaurant franchise business, one plate at a time.
Photo: Aaron K. Yoshino

There is no shortage of incredible women in Hawai’i, wāhine who work tirelessly on behalf of others, lead the way for women and lead by example, even when it means standing up against deep-rooted injustices. Meet 15 people who inspire and move Honolulu forward in everything from arts to government and restaurants to sports. Meet Elisia Flores, 37, CEO of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue.

“I always considered an older brother“, explains Elisia Flores. After all, L&L was in his family before he was born. It was founded in 1952 and purchased in 1976 by his father, Eddie Flores Jr., and Johnson Kam. “My parents put love, energy and money into it, just like they did with me and my sister.” Her first job was as an L&L cashier, “and I was bad at it,” Flores laughs. “I was slow and bad at math.” Her skills clearly improved, as she later earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Southern California and an executive MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked at General Electric as a chief financial officer. main. Today, Flores is CEO of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, a 70-year-old company that has more than 200 restaurants across the United States with a few international locations. By the end of 2022, 15 more will have been added.

“I love the plated lunch story,” says Flores. “It really captures some of the special things about Hawai’i – the different cultures, the hard work, the humility, and the huge portions.” Her father immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong and her mother, who had been adopted by a Rhode Island family, moved to Hawai’i after high school. “They both created their lives here. America is a land of opportunity for many, and for them that beginning was in Hawaii. We are grateful to be here and to be part of the community. It’s important for us to give back,” she says. For her, this includes extensive community and volunteer work, including serving on the boards of Hawaiian Electric Industries, American Savings Bank, Hawai’i Pacific Health, Diamond Head Theatre, Family Business Center of Hawai’i, Culinary Arts Program at Kapi’olani Community College, the Hawai’i Restaurant Association and the Hawaiian Humane Society. “Building female leaders – we do a much better job in Hawai’i than other places, in my experience. Having a hui, having a mentor,” are essential, she says. “And the more examples we have of successful women, the more motivating it is for others to see that success and know what resources are available.”

“The more examples we have of successful women, the more motivating it is for others to see that success and know what resources are available.”

Flores sees potential for L&L to grow even further. “The consumer pool is different; there is such an appreciation for food and culture.” And, she says, L&L isn’t your typical franchise: “You go to two McDonald’s and they’re the same. You go to L&L and hope they are similar, but we welcome franchisees who do their own business. They want to be part of the business, not part of 5,000 pages of rules.

Flores’ life is also developing on a personal level. She and her wife Megan have been married for four years and are expecting their first child in April. “We try to prepare ourselves, by accumulating these hours of sleep,” she says. Knowing Flores, the count will be accurate.


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