"EVERY TIME I'D GO HOME FROM MANILA, I'D ALWAYS ASK MY MOM TO COOK ME KBL." TIPPI CHUA, THE COMPANY FOUNDER, SAID. "IT WAS ALWAYS SOMETHING I MISSED FROM HOME".
And when the time came for her to go home for good to put up the restaurant that she and her sister, Thea Valdez, dreamed of, she thought why not offer food that she saw was missing on restaurants' menus but very much present on everyone's dining table on a daily basis - home-cooked local food composed of soup and a "dry" dish.
She said, "The only restaurants offering local soups as their specialty were the cansi houses. You won't find restaurants that really offered our KBL, Linaga, Pochero, Manok sa Ubad, etc. I also did not see a restaurant in Bacolod specializing in affordable and simple home-cooked food, except for our neighborhood carenderias. But these places can usually get stuffy during lunch, especially with our hot weather, so this can be a discouragement if you still have to go back to work after lunch break is over. That's why I focused on creating a concept that catered to the lunch crowd who would like to eat value for money home-cooked local food but in a more comfortable environment." To start, she said that she used her lola's and parents' recipes - food that she'd eat every single day when at home.
She recounted that her travels to South Korea made her appreciate the Korean bowl, Ddukbaegi; because the soups, when using these bowls, are served boiling hot on your table and are kept warm for at least 30 minutes. She used these to serve the house specialties and people appreciated that there'd be no "sebo" because they remained hot until the end of the meal.
The restaurant concept easily caught the interest of the target market - employees. She shared, "We were blessed that our 40-seater restaurant was always packed during lunch a week after opening. News about the restaurant through word of mouth spread quickly. And that interest has been sustained, so far." But she shares that it does not mean that they put in less effort just because the concept is a hit. "We have to keep reinventing and do better every day. We take care of our customers, too, especially our 'sukis'. We know them by name, and know their preferences and even their birthdays! They have been our greatest support. They are our brand ambassadors!" Also, aside from their "sukis", it's their employees that sincerely pour their love and energy for work that make the business continue to thrive, she proudly shares. "All of our employees are millennials. And for us, that is a good thing. Their passionate energy is what keeps us going."
A year after, in October 2015, their partner, Tamara Javelosa, joined the sisters, when they opened their second branch. Their third branch opened after a little over a year in March 2017, "We won't stop with 3 branches", Tippi shared.
"WE WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE TO CREATE MORE JOBS AND HELP MAKE OUR LOCAL SPECIALTIES BECOME KNOWN, SUCH AS THE MUCH LOVED LOCAL FAVOURITE, THE KBL."