Many top establishments in Poblacion played a key part in the food crawl as pit stops for the participants, who were looking forward to discover the food haven’s best offers. Among the partner bars and restaurants were ABKD, Ñ, Wild Poppy, Alamat, Z Hostel, and Yalla Yalla.
During Let’s Food Crawl Pare’s culmination, Globe myBusiness spoke with the owners of its partner establishments to hear what their business secrets are and what advice they had for aspiring restaurant or bar owners dreaming of success.
Check out these master tips and discover the path to success in the food business:
You may think that ABKD and Ñ are merely two establishments that happened to find their place on top of each other, but the two concepts were actually designed that way to provide a fully stacked experience for its guests.
ABKD, a relaxed back-to-basics restaurant, and Ñ, a modern Filipino-inspired bar, were the brainchildren of none other than Chef Lica Ibarra, a renowned chef and serial restaurateur. She says the two establishments may look different, but they are connected.
“After our guests are done with their meal at ABKD, they can go up and have a completely different feel at Ñ. There is a synergy between the two. After you eat, if you still want to have some fun and grab a few drinks, you go up,” Chef Lica explains.
According to Chef Lica, giving their guests the whole experience was the ultimate goal of ABKD and Ñ. She says it plays an important role in keeping customers, who will in turn talk about their unique offers and invite prospect guests to their business.
“Our goal really is make our guests feel like they are home. We always welcome our guests like they are really visitors coming to our home. That’s the ambiance we want. Besides our food, we want to give them the whole experience,” she says.
Eat your fill of Southeast Asian dishes at the comfort of a garden-inspired restobar in Wild Poppy’s humble abode in Poblacion. One of its co-owners Kaity Chua says Wild Poppy was designed as the place-to-be for those looking for a relaxed oasis at the end of a busy day.
Although Wild Poppy is known for its home-like vibe, the dishes and cocktails it serves let off wild Southeast Asian flavours, creating a perfect balance of sugar and spice for both the easygoing and thrill-seeking markets.
“The customer experience that we really want to give is a wild and interesting one. We want them to have a really good time. That’s one of the reasons we are located in Poblacion. We like the relaxed vibe of the neighborhood: you don’t have to dress up, wear heels, and you can just be yourself and have a good time,” Kaity shares.
She adds: “About the food, we really like wild flavors and we feel that Southeast Asian flavors are one of those. It is different, it has variety and there’s a spice to it. We also translated that to our cocktails, which complement our dishes [very well].”
No matter what your business is, location is important to keep the mill running. That’s the principle that Z Hostel kept in sight as it now becomes one of the most popular destinations for people who want to experience what Poblacion has to offer.
“A lot of establishments are opening here in Poblacion because it’s a lot cheaper to open here compared to other areas. It is also very accessible. The value proposition here is that you can walk from one place to another, unlike others where you have to drive. There are so many restaurants around just one spot,” Rommel Marasigan, Z Hostel President, said.
Z Hostel stands in the heart of Poblacion, surrounded by different restaurants and bars that sport different concepts and cuisines. Rommel says that while competition may be stiff in a tightly packed playing field like Poblacion, there’s a sense of family between establishments in the area. This makes it a fitting place for startups and first time restaurateurs to grow.
“Here, we have a so-called “coopetition,” where everyone is cooperating while competing. There are so many concepts and very few are the same; not everyone is competing directly. It’s a healthy relationship. All the owners are friends and we have this bayanihan concept,” Rommel adds.
In the age of social media, being online is a necessity. On the Internet, businesses are able to reach different markets, no matter where they are around the globe. This is what Yalla Yalla capitalized on as a restaurant that offers unique Middle Eastern cuisine.
According to Ricky Punzalan, owner of Yalla Yalla, one of the reasons they put up the restaurant is to introduce Lebanese cuisine to a bigger market. He says being present online helps them reach customers and capture new markets through reviews and recommendations.
He says their special Lebanese offers are making waves through online channels, helping their brand become more prolific. They likewise help in growing their customer base, who are largely influenced by what’s hip and new on social media platforms.
“We want our customers to be able to try Lebanese food, and social media helps us a lot in spreading the word. On Facebook, you get to connect with people in the demographic you want. There, when you recommend a place to eat, people who know them will know about it. It helps us in that way,” Ricky says.
On top of being one of the most hospitable nationalities in the world, Filipinos have one of the most profound and exciting cuisines. This is what Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli is demonstrating as it packs reinvented local dishes and drinks with its homey restaurant in Poblacion.
Cassandra Laus, co-owner of Alamat, says that the concept behind the restaurant was rooted from their team’s drive to show people the value of loving their own culture. Besides putting its own twist to well-known Filipino dishes, Alamat also offers original local craft beer, which was sourced from different regions of the Philippines.
“We want to show how cool the Filipino culture is and how awesome our ingredients are. It’s not being highlighted enough, which is why we put up a bar that centers on our culture. We offer a fun way to know the Filipino culture and the people behind it,” Cassandra says.
“We want to inspire our fellow Filipinos to love our own more. Hopefully, if they are to put up their own bars or their own concepts, they adopt a local inspiration,” she adds.
Starting up your own restaurant or bar takes a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. With these masterful tips, you already have a headstart on planning, designing, and building your dream business and racing to your success!
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