When in Manila, you will never run out of exciting restaurants that will surely tickle your tastebuds. These restaurateurs came from different backgrounds and beginnings, but eventually shared the same passion– to deliver a plate of love and a mix of their journeys turned into food that are distinctly delicious.
6 Entrepreneurs with Different Backgrounds But a Single Passion
6. Charis Bacolod of Urban Farm
Software Engineer by profession, Charis Bacolod and her boyfriend wanted to invest in something that would be a need of the society. Since today’s trend is all about being healthy and because of Charis’ many allergies, they settled on opening a restaurant that serves organic food.
The Urban Farm first opened in BF Homes in Parañaque and became a favorite among the residents there. Charis mentions that some of their customers are cancer patients and survivors! For the restaurant, they have contracted an organic farm in Batangas to supply them with the freshest ingredients. They even have a chemist to teach them what natural herbs can be used to sweeten or salten the food, and a naturopathic doctor who comes in every Thursday to talk to their customers. Charis says that, as a Software Engineer, she has a habit of consistently validating. They take time to assess their performance and read about their customers’ comments and suggestions. In the future, The Urban Farm wants to open a vertical farm in the restaurant, so that their customers can see where the ingredients are coming from.
5. Portia Baluyut of Rustic Mornings
From working in an ad agency and eventually putting up her own, Portia Baluyut opened her first restaurant, Isabelo, out of boredom. It is very ironic, though, that with her years of experience in advertising, she didn’t advertise Isabelo at all. “Because it’s a secret restaurant. It will defeat the purpose of it being a secret if I advertised it,” she says Five years into Isabelo, she got bored again and thought of opening the place in the morning and allow walk-in customers. Thus, Rustic Mornings was born.
She started Rustic Mornings as a way of showing what she felt that time in terms of home and personal. Portia didn’t even know she could actually cook until she closed down her agency. Rustic Mornings’ menu consists of mostly comfort food and she describes it as simple and basic. According to her, restaurants should not just be about the food, but also about the place. Her mom, who is an interior designer, made the place homey and comfortable, so that it feels like they are welcoming their customers into their own house. While she has plans about eventually branching out, Portia is currently busy with her cooking show called “A Pinch of Portia” on the Lifestyle Network.
4. Bernadette Aboganda of Barkin Blends
Petting a dog can be considered as a stress reliever, which is why dog enthusiast Bernadette Aboganda pursued the idea of a dog café here in the country. She used to work in the corporate world; but after visiting Bau Café in South Korea, she decided to open Barkin Blends, one of the first dog cafés in the country.
Everyone in their family is a dog lover, and customers interact with their own dogs at the dog zone of the café. Everything in the café is made by her family. Her mom designed the logo and the interiors, her brother helped with the website, and she took photos of the dogs. The café became the new hangout place of families and even couples. As of this writing, they are renovating the place for a new side of the café where you can eat alongside your dog! It must be clear, though, that not all of the dogs are there every time. After all, dogs get stressed, too!
3. Emilio Esguerra of Mom and Tina’s
Former photographer and writer, Emilio Esguerra now performs the HR duties for all of their branches, as well as for their commissary. He is the grandson of Mom Belen Vergara Torres and the nephew of Tina Torres-Santos. What originally started as a bonding moment in the kitchen is now a café that serves freshly baked pastries and home-cooked meals that will surely make you feel at home.
Mom and Tina’s boasts of the quality of their food. He says that Tina is very strict when it comes to the food that they serve. According to him, they’d rather not sell any food than use cheap ingredients in their food! Although they are now a well-established café, they did hit a few bumps when they were starting out. Before, there was no one to overlook their employees and they did not have an HR Manager until they opened their second branch. They also held off opening in malls for fear that they would have to hike up their prices and scare their customers away. Don’t worry, though. Emilio says that if ever an opportunity comes up that does not require them to increase their prices, they will surely consider it.
2. Dennis Paras of Area 05
Dennis Paras was looking for another business venture when he stumbled upon a building for lease. It used to be Randy Santiago’s Ratsky and when he was still working in a bank, he would treat his staff there. After consulting with his friends, he took over and turned the place into what is now Area 05. They will be turning five this December.
Dennis first opened the place as a bar and restaurant and got bands, singers, and comedians to perform every night. He even tried ballroom dancing on Mondays. Since the place is big, Dennis opened it up as an events place, as well. Five years into it, Dennis got the opportunity to put up another business, but had to turn it down because of the demanding attention that Area 05 needs. The third floor of the building is currently being leased.
1. Patrick Cuartero of ABV Bar
Patrick Curatero developed his love for all things food and beverage while living in the Big Apple for seven years. As a former world yoyo champion, he started an online yoyo store after leaving Wall Street. He came back to the Philippines to expand his yoyo business and a year later, he became the CEO for Groupon. Even with a corporate background, though, his passion lay in the food and beverage industry. Last year, ABV was born.
ABV means Alcohol By Volume. It is a speakeasy-esque bar that will take you back to the 1920s. Patrick doesn’t just want to serve drinks; he also wants to give their customers a unique experience that will make them want to share it to their friends. When they first started, the only marketing that they did was to send out 10 text messages, and up to now, they still rely on word-of-mouth. What Patrick loves about the industry is the instant gratification that they get, like when someone’s eyes light up once they see the place or when they take the first sip of their drink. Patrick wants ABV to be the best bar, not just in the country, but even outside of it, and be part of the world’s best 50 bars (there’s actually a list for that!). Don’t expect another branch of ABV, though. He says that there will only be one ABV. Like ever!
Most of us will come to a point where we question if we are really doing what we are supposed to do. Life is full of trials and errors. As The Script song says, “If you even have to think about it, it’s not right for you.” Sometimes you just have to follow your guts and do it! These entrepreneurs may have come from different professions but they all share the same passion, which is to provide good food and different experiences to their customers.
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