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Filipinos love to eat out. Despite the abundance of restaurants of every type of cuisine, they are always looking for new dining experiences. Archie Rodriguez, President and CEO of Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc., is the man who gives them a taste of a new world.
Having brought to the Philippines such renowned food franchises as California Pizza Kitchen, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Gyu-Kaku, Mad for Garlic, Morelli’s Gelato, and International House of Pancakes that originated from countries as diverse as America, Japan, Korea and United Kingdom, you’ve demonstrated a knack of knowing exactly what the Filipino tastebuds hunger for. How do you select what food franchise to bring into the country and how do you know if it will fit the local market, where to locate and how to position the brand?
The mandate of our company, GRC, is to introduce, develop and operate casual, family friendly concepts. We try to secure brands that we feel will be sustainable and will serve the discerning tastes of the Filipino consumer; restaurants that we ourselves will frequent. Each brand has to be unique and must complement the brands we already carry. Each brand can stand alone and at the same time work well with other locators.
While we believe we have strong brands that can be considered anchors, we are conservative when selecting locations. We work closely with developers to identify locations that will be mutually beneficial. We try and understand/study traffic flow, demographics, tenant mix, target market and the economics of a particular development to see if it matches our own expectations.
What led you to this kind of business?
I believe I was indirectly influenced by my father since he has always been involved in F&B. I did not plan on building a career in the industry but I did fall in love with it after we opened our first restaurant. I believe I speak for my partners as well as myself when I say our passion for the business continues to grow each day.
Do you travel abroad to see and taste for yourself what’s offered by these international franchises? Tell us about these experiences.
I am fortunate to have the opportunity to travel and experience new cultures, restaurants, hotels, and establishments. Looking back, I notice that I remember places either through the restaurants we dined in or the moments I shared with family and friends eating, drinking and simply enjoying the moment.
Many of the brands we acquired starts with a story. I used to frequently order CPK for takeout until I finally went to visit the restaurant itself, many months later. I was astonished to see them handing out pagers to diners so they could go shopping while waiting for an available seat. On a short visit to Florida my brother, Tonio, took me to PF Chang’s. I was shocked he wanted to eat Chinese as we usually take to other cuisines better. Our experience was completely wonderful. My first visit to Morelli’s in Harrod’s resulted in my eating five scoops in one seating. IHOP was a favorite choice for those early mornings; either before going home or just waking up. Gyu-kaku was so good we dined for four hours. And Mad for Garlic was like having a circus in my mouth; all emotional experiences that my partners shared and hence led us to pursing the same brands.
What are you favorite dishes from your restaurants?
Too many to elaborate on, although, I must admit that I tend to explore our menus by ordering a different dish each time. And I usually find that I always have a new favorite. I would encourage our diners to do the same. They will be pleasantly surprised.
What can we expect next from Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc.?
GRC will continue to grow the brands we currently have. We hope to bring our restaurants closer to diners throughout the metro. We will also continue to pursue innovative and popular brands that cater to families and will hopefully introduce a few more before the year ends or sometime next year.