Restaurateur and Executive Richard Frank '46 a Recipient of the 2012 Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award
Richard N. Frank ’46, chairman of Lawry’s Restaurants Inc., was selected for the 2012 Blaisdell Distinguished Alumni Award.
An economics major, Frank was president of the Associated Men Students, a photographer for Metate and served on the College’s social and traditions committees. Frank’s involvement with Pomona continued long after graduation as a trustee and trustee emeritus; sitting on the advisory council and as past president of Torchbearers. Due to his gift, Frank Dining Hall—fittingly—bears his name.
The Blaisdell Award honors alumni for their high achievement in their professions or community service, particularly those who have carried the spirit of the College into the rest of the world and lived up to the famous quotation from James A. Blaisdell which is inscribed into the gates of the College: "They only are loyal to the college who departing bear their added riches in trust for mankind."
As a restaurateur and businessman, Frank continued in the family tradition.
The famed Tam O’Shanter, established in Atwater Village in 1922 by Frank’s father, Lawrence Frank, and his uncle, Walter Van de Kamp, is Los Angeles' oldest restaurant operated by the same family in the same location.
In 1938, Frank’s father and uncle also started the original Lawry’s The Prime Rib Restaurant in Beverly Hills. Additional locations include Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong, among others. His son Richard R. Frank ’78 is now president and chief executive officer of Lawry’s Restaurants.
For many years, Frank also served as president and chief executive officer of Lawry’s Foods Inc., which produced some 100 products including Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, America’s best-selling formulated seasoning. Under his leadership, Lawry’s Foods grew from a fledgling family business into a multi-million dollar company that was acquired by Thomas J. Lipton in 1979, and the Lawry’s brand is now owned by McCormick and Co. Frank remained in the service of Lawry’s Foods until his retirement in 1988. Lawry’s Restaurants remains a family-owned business.
Attending Pomona College is another family tradition that includes his wife Mary Alice ’47; his daughter Laurie E. Wilson ’72; his son Richard R. Frank ’78; his grandchildren Sarah B. Wilson ’99 and Ryan Wilson ’03; and his late sister Lorraine Frank Petitfils ’46. He also has a daughter, Susan D’Angelo.
Frank started yet another tradition. More than 50 years ago, he began hosting the now-famous Lawry’s Beef Bowl, in which competing Rose Bowl teams visit Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Beverly Hills for a prime rib eating contest. In 2006, in honor of the annual event, the Tournament of Roses made Frank a member of its Rose Bowl Hall of Fame.
Frank’s social and charitable affiliations over the years are numerous. He was on the board of trustees for Pasadena’s Westridge School, the Crippled Children’s Society and Art Center College of Design. He has also been active with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association and the Los Angeles Rotary Club, and supportive of the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona.
“Giving back is something that has been traditional in my family for many years,” says Frank. “I’ve just followed through, and to me it’s been a necessity to take care of whatever needs to be taken care of.” He credits his father, Lawrence Frank, as his primary influence on his philosophy of service. “Virtually all of that comes from him.”
In 2008, the California Restaurant Association presented Frank with its Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors “extraordinary individuals who have greatly influenced, made outstanding contributions to and helped transform the restaurant and hospitality industry, while serving their communities and inspiring others.”
Frank and his wife Mary Alice reside in Pasadena, CA.