Hawaiian Fast Casual Food Coming to Central Denver in the Summer

L&L Hawaiian Barbecue to begin serving up “the state food of Hawaii” in a few short months.
L&L Hawaiian Barbecue plates
Photo courtesy of L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
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Come summer 2023, downtown Denverites will have an elevated option to the typical sandwich or salad for a fast casual meal. L&L Hawaiian Barbecue will offer plated lunches (and dinners) — “the state food of Hawaii” — at 575 Lincoln St. in central Denver beginning in June/July of 2023, according to a Denver commercial permit application.

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“It’s the McDonald’s of Asian food,” franchisee Brian Cung said. “My family loves L&L and sometimes the one location in Aurora is too far or too busy for us to enjoy.”

Per L&L Barbecue’s website, the plated meal has its roots in the tinned leftovers that 19th century Hawaiian sugar and pineapple plantation laborers would bring for lunch. Immigrants from “Japan, China, the Philippines, Portugal, Korea, and even New England” would share their cultural fare, melding together with myriad possibilities for the palate.

That history is reflected in the L&L menu, first brought to the U.S. mainland in California by founders Johnson Kam and Eddie Flores Jr. Plates and bowls range from traditional Spam saimin noodle stew to eggs over hamburger patties. Plates all come with two servings of rice and macaroni salad to provide fuel for the day. It’s Hawaiian comfort food for the spirit.

Since its 1999 founding, L&L has spread its diverse eats both west and east, with over 200 stores across the U.S. and in Japan. Now that impact will arrive in downtown Denver, the center hub of stores to the south in Colorado Springs and Aurora and to the north in Fort Collins. Not only will the traditional Hawaiian dishes be represented, they will arrive at an affordable price for a full meal.

“L&L is like Asian soul food to me,” Cung said. “At an affordable price, I believe this will provide good eats to many residents and businesses in Denver.”

Matthew Denis

Matthew D. Denis is a Bend, Oregon-based freelance reporter with a predilection for existential expression. Be it art, backcountry exploration, overland road rallies, or Zimbabwean beats, Matt is there to describe the culture and expression that defines our humanity. You can find his work in ArtNews, The Register-Guard, The Manual, U.S. News & World Report, and more. When Matt's not typing on keys, he'll likely be exploring books, creative writing, or endless Western wilds.
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