Honolulu

Sages Over Seventy: Eddie Flores – Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-09-19 00:49:16 –

The founders of the L & L family restaurants still go to work most days, but are now also working on revitalizing Chinatown in Honolulu.
Photo: Aaron Yoshino

5th in Hawaii’s “Sages Over 70” series of profiles


At 7:30 am on weekdays Eddie Flores Lucky his dog heads to the L & L Hawaiian barbecue office, despite his daughter Elysia being the CEO and running 80% of the business for two years.

As Lucky runs around, Flores calls, sets up a lunch date with his peers, and takes a nap in the afternoon before working on his latest project, Chinatown Revitalization.

He is 74 years old and is working on expanding the L & L empire, including either 212 or 218. Franchise restaurant In 14 states (he and his daughter are divided on the exact number), Flores loosened his grip on business and moved to the Chinatown project.

“I’m a little excited,” he says. “I want to be cleaner, better, and safer, just as the mayor wants to do.”

He is also raising money to build a Chinatown gateway on Kekawlike and King streets (near where the train station is planned). Other Chinatown-like arches point to the entrance.

“Do you know how long it will take to get permission?” Flores asks. “It takes about a year and a half to get all the permits.”

Flores recognizes that Chinatown’s rejuvenation also requires financial stimulus, merchant support, and major remodeling.

Chinatown is close to his heart, as he has always supported immigrant Chinese families and is close to where he lived when he arrived in Hawaii from Hong Kong in 1963.

“I grew up on Liliha Street, three blocks away. Then I moved to Kukui Garden.”

He still likes to wander Chinatown, greet friends and strangers, and shop in the open market.

Flores also wants to help create an exhibition that honors prominent people of Chinese ancestry.

“It will help people understand a little more about China’s contribution to Hawaii. Not many people know what the Chinese did in Hawaii.”

Nor do they know how much Flores has done to teach young people like Tony Wong Kam who have known “Uncle Eddie” since he was a boy.

When WongCam enrolled in UH’s Shidler College of Business, Flores introduced him to the Dean and other Business Associates, allowing students to connect to the network.

“The biggest thing he taught me was that relationships are everything in Hawaii. Meet him at a networking event and he takes me and introduces me to my business partners and friends. They also guided me. I’m trying to convey it to the young people I work with. “

Wong Cam is grateful that he funded his own L & L franchise in Waimanalo two years ago and helped Flores understand how the business works.

“Eddie provided a lot of help and guidance, a way to manage finances and hire the right people.” Flores also gave young businessmen a number to “really meet someone” on the golf course. I advised him to learn golf because it gives him time.

Flores, partly Chinese and partly Filipino, is also involved in the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu and has recently collaborated with Kaiser Permanente to provide a site for COVID-19 vaccination.

“I told Kaiser that they would give me a free plate lunch when they came to the shot,” he says.

He worked with Roland Casamina decades ago to set up an important gathering center.

“It’s the pride and joy of the Filipino community,” says Flores. “I studied them when the Okinawa and Japan centers were first built and said they would rent half of the facility for commercial use and it would pay maintenance costs. If you don’t have income, it’s belly. Will stand up. “

Casamina remembers teaming up with Flores at the Community Center to host the annual Filipino Festival.

“Eddie is a whirlwind,” says Casamina. “I learned a lot from him. He is my senior, 9 years old and has a lot of business experience. I was already successful at my company, House of Finance, but I work with him. It seemed perfect to do. Everything we did took off like a rocket. “

Flores and Casamina each invested $ 50,000 to raise money and urged banks, other businesses, nonprofits and governments to help support the center, which was completed in 2002.

Casamina remembers that the biggest donor was the Weinberg Foundation.

“We asked for $ 1.5 million, but one day we got a call saying,’Would you like to come to an urgent meeting?’ … We thought they would reduce our demands, but instead of reducing it, they said, “We will give you $ 3 million.” We were kicking each other under the table, we were very excited. Since then, we have been our best friends. “



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