Real Mex Restaurants Inc. has relaunched its Who Song & Larry’s brand as an eclectic “Mexican gastropub” in an effort to spark new interest from a younger demographic.

Real Mex, also parent to the Chevys Fresh Mex, El Torito and Acapulco chains, is currently working through a multi-brand overhaul. President and chief executive Charly Robinson, who was appointed to the position about a year ago, intends to reinvent Who Song & Larry’s as an all-new casual-dining brand.

Real Mex has long operated a one-off Who Song & Larry’s restaurant in Vancouver, Wash., which Robinson described as “an El Torito with a different name.”

The new version, however, which opened earlier this month in Orange, Calif., is nothing like the original.

“I just really liked the name,” Robinson said of Who Song & Larry’s.

Real Mex converted an Acapulco restaurant to the new Who Song & Larry’s. The concept is based on the fictional characters Who Song and Larry, two best friends who travel around the world meeting people and sharing food and drinks.

The menu is eclectic — about 60 percent Mexican, but the rest a mix of cuisines from around the world — with shareable small plates and communal tables. The indoor/outdoor bar is also a major focus, with craft beers and specialty cocktails, such as margaritas and flaming mai tais, as well as sharable drinks served in wooden buckets.



The check average is in the low $20s, including lunch, but leans more toward $27 per person at dinner. Unlike other Real Mex brands, Who Song & Larry’s will not use coupons or discounts to drive traffic, Robinson said.

“I wanted to create something totally different than what’s in the marketplace today,” said Robinson, noting that he was inspired by the success of bar-focused concepts like Yard House and Miller’s Ale House. “You’ve got to have atmosphere, food, service and a certain vibe. The place has to have a certain energy.”

Servers will not wear a standard uniform, though they may choose to wear a branded hat or shirt. Instead, they are encouraged to show their own personality. Employees will choose the restaurant’s music, and marketing efforts will lean heavily toward social media.

If the concept does well, Real Mex may look to franchise Who Song & Larry’s. Currently, the only brand in Real Mex’s portfolio that franchises is Chevys Fresh Mex, which has 13 franchised locations.