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Thursday, Sep 28, 2023


Richard R. Frank, the newly-elected president and chief executive of Lawry’s Restaurants Inc., looks to yesterday to get his inspiration for tomorrow.

Frank took over the reins this month at the company that was started by his grandfather, Lawrence L. Frank, in 1922 with the Tam O’Shanter in Los Feliz.

There are now seven restaurants, including the flagship Lawry’s The Prime Rib on Restaurant Row in Beverly Hills. Other properties include The Five Crowns in Corona del Mar and Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas.

Part of the reason for Lawry’s longevity has been its specialty: hearty, prime rib dinners prepared tableside.

“We don’t compete directly against the steak houses and no one has attempted to step up to the plate and try to copy us,” Frank said. “We have a unique niche that has been able to hold its own.”

In his new position, Frank is reviewing plans for expansion into Washington, D.C., Boston and Toronto. International expansion is also a possibility.

“I have always thought that we would fit well in Europe. Although I wouldn’t know what cities at this time, Asia is another possibility. But there’s nothing specific on our radar scope,” Frank said.

“We believe that Lawry’s The Prime Rib restaurants can be grown but we don’t see ourselves as having 40 restaurants,” he added. “It takes a certain size population with a solid percentage of upper income households to support our kind of restaurants.”

Frank joined the company as director of long-range planning shortly after receiving an MBA from Harvard University Graduate School of Business. Prior to entering Harvard, he worked for two years at the management consulting firm of McKinsey and Co. Inc. He received his bachelors degree from Pomona College in Claremont.

Frank said he was never groomed for the role and in fact, did not even really plan on going to work for his father. But several conversations with his father changed his mind.

“After giving it some thought, I decided that it made a lot of sense to join the company, partly because while the restaurant business is a tough business, we had a restaurant that had proven its viability through the years,” Frank said.

Frank spent one summer vacation working as a busboy and although he did break his share of dishes that summer, he values the front-line experience.

“I didn’t fully weigh the issues of being the boss’ son, but I did have to prove that I was there not because I couldn’t get a job somewhere else, but that I was capable of doing the job,” he added.

In 1995, Frank opened up a private room in the Beverly Hills restaurant to the jurors in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. They were treated to cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a dinner table complete with flowers, silver candelabras and china and crystal. “They deserved a special evening out,” Frank said.

Since joining the company in 1982, Frank has been able to meet many diners but it’s some of the biggest eaters college football players and coaches that Frank enjoys the most. Each year, his company sponsors the Beef Bowl where opposing teams playing in the Rose Bowl are fed all the prime rib they can eat.

“I’ve enjoyed meeting guys like Joe Paterno, Lou Holtz and John Robinson,” Frank said. “And the players, well, they have hearty appetites.”

Julie Sable

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