Filipinos around the world are undoubtedly dynamic and diverse. We come across amazing stories every day and this Filipina entrepreneur is no stranger.
Kanel Arceno and her soon-to-be- Pili Manila Grill. The first Filipino restaurant in LA City Hall.
She envisioned this a long time ago and ecstatic to know, it’s finally coming true. She plans to open in June this year, just in time for our Independence Day.
I met her online when I was looking for some newsworthy stories to share with everyone. She got my attention primarily because she is from the Philippines and lives in Los Angeles, California, my partner’s hometown. So, I immediately asked permission if I could share her story. As luck would have it, she said, “by all means.”
She travelled around the world to study the culture and the authenticity of the food. On a lighter note, she also shared that one of her pet peeves is if someone is constantly on the phone whilst at the dinner table. (which is a “thing” nowadays)
Realistically, she didn’t have enough money to come up with a restaurant in LA, especially in Downtown. (Yes, very high cost of living there!) Still, she left her 9-5 job as Project Manager to work for Chipotle – a well-known Mexican Grill in the US.
Amazing enough, I continued chatting with her and asked, “why did you leave the job considering the recession ongoing in the States?” She said she wanted to experience how it’s done in the hospitality industry.
“I would not expect my future hires to respect me if I did not have experience in the hospitality field or know how/what it took to be in their shoes. I took workshops, networked, and reached out to mentors for knowledge,” she added.
The name “Pili Manila Grill” was inspired by grandmother, Rizaline Espinosa. Pili nut is a known delectable and beneficial kind of nut that grows indigenously in the Bicol region. The grandma owns a farm and used to harvest Pili nuts. Hence, the name.
As a sole owner of the restaurant, she thought that it would be impossible to do it all by herself. So, with the help of her $30k Kickstarter campaign and the love of the people to support her vision, she was able to raise the funds. She was also featured in BalitangAmerica.TV and other publications.
At the moment, she is finalising all paperwork and permits needed to operate the first Filipino restaurant in LA City Hall!
Ultimately, following our dreams isn’t hard. Oftentimes, our reasons are shallow, like we’re too busy to study or not enough money. The latter part is the main reason for everyone. But, we will never find time for anything unless we make it.
As what Kanel shared for the young entrepreneurs out there, we must (always) surround ourselves with positivity and good people because they will serve as the voices of our future accomplishments.
In short, we must have the right mindset to push us to go forward.
Good luck, Pili Manila Grill and Represent!
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