Once upon a time there were two girls from Southern California who were picture framers selling their finished product at the Orange County Fairgrounds Flea Market, but longing for adventure in faraway places. In 1986, while vacationing on Maui, Laren Gartner and Edna Bayliff lingered in Lahaina. After eating the fish special of the day for $21.95 for several days, Laren remarked, “I sure would like a great big gooey, five napkin Cheeseburger”. The girls returned to California and resumed their life at the Flea Market until one day Laren, throwing caution to the four winds, said, “Let’s go back to Lahaina and open a Cheeseburger Restaurant!” And so they did. Choosing one of the hardest industries in the world in which to achieve success, they jumped off a cliff into the unknown. Boy did they ever! Borrowing a half a million dollars from family and friends, they left the cats with relatives, sold their little framing business, and flew away to Maui. They made every mistake in the book, and why wouldn’t they? Neither one of them had ever worked in the restaurant business before! But how hard could this be? They were good consumers, they knew what they liked and making a Cheeseburger wasn’t brain surgery after all.
Starting with a world-class oceanfront location in Lahaina (their original deal was the back end of a five year lease with an option to renew that was lost in a poker game) and a great idea (that a Cheeseburger might be more fun than a hamburger), they pursued their dream. With Cheeseburgers, Mai Tais & Rock N Roll as their slogan, Laren and Edna opened their first Cheeseburger Restaurant in 1989.
Today, Cheeseburger, Lahaina serves over 1200 guests per day,18,000 Cheeseburgers With An Attitude per month, and has become a legend not only in the Hawaiian Islands, but the Whole Wide World! In 1997, Cheeseburger, Waikiki Beach opened on the most famous beach in the world. Today it is considered a landmark and one of Waikiki’s most popular restaurants serving over 1400 guests each day! Next, they went back to Maui to open Cheeseburger Island Style in Magical Wailea in 2001. Here we should tell you that restaurants are addictive. You can’t open just one. Lahaina, Waikiki and Wailea were followed by two more Cheeseburger Restaurants in Waikiki. And because adventurous people never stop looking for adventure, we opened the upscale dining restaurant, Ka’anapali Grille and Tap Room oceanfront on the magnificent Ka’anapali Beach. And, because adventurous people are also a little crazy, we opened an amazing Craft Beer Brewery, Waikiki Brewing Company, adjacent to Cheeseburger Waikiki. Not only is WBC already stacking up statewide awards, but it grew so fast we opened a large production facility with two bars, a beer garden and a killer kitchen specializing in house smoked meats located in the Kaka’ako District of Honolulu. We also opened up our third brewery location at our home away from home, Lahaina.
This restaurant addiction led to some spectacular failures, but you’ll have to wait for the book to read about Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Monterey Bay, California, Aloha Cantina in Lahaina and Citrus City Grille in Old Town Orange, California. So here it is, Cheeseburger … and we built it just for you. They say that adventures are made by adventurous people. When we founded Cheeseburger, some called us adventurous, some called us just plain crazy. We’re Laren Gartner and Edna Bayliff, founders of the wildly popular Cheeseburger Concept. We’re the chief architects here at Cheeseburgerland. Sit back, enjoy your Cheeseburger, dig into some Ono Onion Rings, a Maui Mai Tai or a crisp cold WBC brew. It is our pleasure to serve you and welcome you to our dream. Nothing is ever done without surrounding yourself with the best team possible. We are forever indebted to the guidance and dedication of Robert Kaskie who leads our team toward success, and to Doug Rainey for standing beside us from that first adventure in Lahaina. Our daughter, Leah Gartner, has been integral in our success from serving tables in 1989 to becoming our current Director of Training and Wellness. Our thanks and gratitude to this team is never ending. Aloha….and did we mention that you need to buy a T-Shirt and a Hat?