How to make your restaurant a sought-after dining destination: 3 views

isabelo's garden

Portia Baluyut, Isabelo Garden

Isabelo Garden Restaurant in Marikina City is fairly new – barely five years old – but it has developed a solid clientele and a reputation for being one of the city’s “most delicious destinations”

Portia D. Baluyut, closed a lucrative and thriving advertising agency she owned, to put up and manage a restaurant because her heart really belonged to the food business.

In an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer, she recalls the early years when she was scouting around for the perfect place to build a restaurant in.  “I was just staring at this bare area and thinking what to do with it and that’s when Isabelo Garden Restaurant came about.”  She built the dining place from scratch and scrap.  “Everything you see in the restaurant is all made from scrap.  You won’t see anything ne except for the kitchen we had to build.  All my appliances are hand-me-downs and all the artwork was provided by my mom who is an a rtist.”

For a theme, she opted for a rustic Italian theme.  “Italian rustic has more heart to it.  You cook it like you are cooking at home for your loved ones.  You will notice that my dishes, even my plates, are really different.  Nothing is really prim and proper here, from the food to the setting, to how I want m clients to feel.”

She also decided she would serve food that she herself liked – and so was born the spinach and artichoke dip, for which the garden restaurant has been known.


Enrique Valles, Chuck’s Grub

Asked what makes Chuck’s Grub, a fish and chips place, stand out from restaurants, Enrique Valles, one of the joint’s co-owners, has this to say: 

“As far as we are aware, we are the only full-fledged original style fish and chips shop in the country. Therefore, in that sense, we are already unique.

“More so, the variety of fish we have on offer is our true unique selling point. We have access to a large variety of seafood which we slowly incorporate into our menu, depending on how it’s received by our customers. Each fish variant has a different flavour and texture profile, giving our customers a whole range of experiences each time they come back.

 “We put a lot of emphasis on the preparation of our signature batter (we use a beer batter taken from a traditional British  recipe) and are committed to only the best-quality ingredients. We prepare our fish and batter fresh in store every day; nothing is pre-done or shortcut.

Business Coach Philippines, Inc.

A restaurant business must be well-planned and well-executed in order to be successful. It is not enough that the food is excellent, but the same must be said about the service, or else the customer is unlikely to return. But more importantly, you must learn business skills besides the culinary arts.

First of all, you must identify and focus your planning on the target market.  Much depends on who you want to cater to. Having a clear picture of your customers will guide you in selecting a location. The market will also determine what food you should offer, the ambiance of the place, and the kind of service. Everything must be as desirable as possible to your consumer.

Make sure to comply with the zoning rules specified in your location permit when putting up a restaurant. Compute if your potential profits will more than offset the cost of the location. In the case of restaurants, do not be afraid of locating beside other food establishments, because people prefer going to places where there are lot of choices. Furthermore, do not believe that location won’t matter as long as your food is great. Those who managed to be successful despite having a poor location are very rare exceptions.

It is important to estimate sales targets in order to buy the right equipment of the right capacity as well as to design the restaurant layout. 

More tips from Coach Philippines:  Do not spend too much on renovation; hire and train staff before opening; plan your menu; and continuously market your restaurant. 

Photo:  Isabelo’s Garden from

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