WITH THIS ISSUE OF A LA CART I bring you the sad news of the passing of my father, Richard N. Frank, last spring. Many of you got to know him through his writing of the Frank Talk column while he served as our company’s CEO, President and Chairman of the Board. He celebrated his 92nd birthday in May and spent his last days peacefully among family and friends at his Pasadena home.
His vision, creativity, hard work and willingness to take risks – sometimes failing, most often succeeding – were the embodiment of what it means to be an entrepreneur. Under his leadership, Lawry’s Foods and Lawry’s Restaurants became internationally known as he developed businesses started by his father and uncles and created new ones.
He spent his last days peacefully among family and friends at his Pasadena home.
He made Lawry’s Seasoned Salt a household name and established the still fondly remembered Los Angeles landmark and beacon of hospitality, Lawry’s California Center. Today, Lawry’s Beef Bowl, which he founded in 1956, is the longest running pre-bowl tradition in college football and is nationally known as an integral part of the annual Rose Bowl Tournament celebration.
Dad led an exceptional life. Over the years, my father’s efforts, along with those of family members and dedicated co-workers, provided employment for thousands and brought pleasure to hundreds of thousands. He was a philanthropist on a large scale and a friend, mentor and source of strength and support for many on a personal level.
His efforts provided employment for thousands and brought pleasure to hundreds of thousands
Richard and Mary Alice, my mother and his wife of 65 years who passed away two years ago, charmed everyone they met. They truly enjoyed knowing his co-workers, many of whom became great friends, and always looked forward to meeting our restaurants’ guests. They made an elegant couple whose curiosity about the world fueled a lifelong love of travel.
While they were at ease in the world, ultimately their immediate family was at the center of it all. Both of them liked nothing better than a good party, especially if it included the family. Holiday celebrations, home cooked dinners, family trips and outings – often to new restaurants to check out the food (and the competition) – formed lasting memories for all of us.
I was lucky to be my father’s son. When I was deciding what to do with my life, he didn’t automatically assume I would go into the family business, even as successful as it was. He wanted me to be my own man. But he did let me know that there would be a place for me in the company if I wanted one.
The embodiment of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
As I weighed my options, I realized I had a wonderful opportunity, not only to learn from him and be part of something very special but also to spend time with the man I loved and admired most, my dad. I joined the company and never looked back.
As his co-worker, I valued my father’s guidance and was inspired not only by his business acumen but also by his integrity. Lawry’s Code of Ethics, which was written by my dad and based on the business philosophy instilled in him by his father, is displayed in our restaurants and informs all we do.
In many ways, he was the heart and soul of Lawry’s.
It seems fitting that we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Five Crowns in Corona del Mar this year. In 1965, Dad opened the unique English-style restaurant whose identity was completely separate from Lawry’s The Prime Rib. Within ten years he would launch more than a dozen popular dining spots that would earn him a reputation as “king of theme restaurants.”
He was particularly delighted by Five Crowns’ longevity, happy to see it evolve over time and enthusiastic about its future.
In coming issues, we’d like to share more details of his story in a retrospective on my father’s life as an imaginative, resourceful leader whose love of his work and respect for his heritage was felt by all who met him. Dad is a tough act to follow. In many ways, he was the heart and soul of Lawry’s. We’ll not see another like him. My family, my co-workers and I will do our best to live up to the wonderful legacy he left us with.
From the desk of Richard R. Frank