WHO would have thought that pansit, a dish so common it is perpetually present in Filipino banquet tables, would be the dish on which the success of two young entrepreneurs would be built?
Jeigfred Pakino and John Eduard Quintano Jr. first met at the workplace, an Italian restaurant in which Pakino worked as the restaurant’s graphic designer and Quintano as the manager.
The restaurant has since closed but a shared love for good food and a common determination to succeed encouraged the two friends to put up their own food business.
Pakino had nurtured an interest in cooking since childhood, watching and eating dishes lovingly prepared by older family members.
“Since I was a kid, I managed to learn how to cook because I was the eldest of my siblings, and my parents, they are really working parents so I had to take care of my brothers and sisters, and one of my tasks is to cook for them. My uncle is really a good cook too, I learned a lot from him and where I learned to cook pansit,” Pakino said.
“On special occasions, my mom would really cook pancit guisado and it was from all of those experiences that I got how I wanted my pansit to taste like,” Pakino said.
With about P1,500 as capital, Pakino and Quintano decided to anchor their business on pansit which they sold to employees of corporate offices around the Divisoria area.
Quintano would go to different offices, taking pre-orders of pansit which Pakino would then cook. The two of them would then personally deliver these packs of pansit to each office.
The two friends would stick to this routine for three months.
In September of 2015, the increasing demand for their signature pansit would push the two to rent space for a small restaurant.
With about P10,000 saved from delivering the pansit and with the help of friends, the J2J Fastfood and Café was born. Up until now, J2J still offers the signature pansit, along with other well-loved Filipino dishes.
Wanting to explore more and expand their market, Pakino and Quintano decided to offer Italian pasta to their growing loyal customers.
“We were surprised with the level of acceptability of our pasta, it got to the point where our customers were the one telling us to offer more Italian food. So we said, why not?” Pakino said.
After the successful J2J, Pakino and Quintano decided to develop another brand called Eduardo Diego Ristorante which focused on Italian dishes which they offered at affordable prices.
“We would like to change the perception that Italian food is sosyal and expensive. Eduardo Diego, a local brand, offers the same experience with the expensive pizza parlors in the city, but ours offers affordable price,” he said.
Aside from offering the usual Italian dishes such as the pasta marinara and Bolognese pizza, Quintano said they added their own twist to the famous Italian dishes.
“While we are careful that we will not lose the Italian taste, we also make sure that what we are serving are perfect for the Filipino taste. If you really understood the Italian food, it’s easy and just like having your own version of pansit or chopsuey so it was fun innovating our own touch of the food,” he said.
Eduardo Diego's best sellers are Spaghetti Pomodoro, Spaghetti Marinara, Pizza Bolognese and Classic Pizza Margarita
Pakino admitted that their earnings are still meager but said their friends are always there ready to lend a hand. The interior design of J2J for instance, was made possible through a friend who sponsored and made their dream design possible.
“It was really a tough experience, we started with a rough budget, knowing our parents dili sila sapian, so sa among mga friends gyud mi nangduol, timing sad kaayo ang ilang offers, just the right timing,” he said.
“After all that we’ve been through, we can say that this is a God-given direction,” he said.
To date, Pakino and Quintano still continue to study and develop their love for food by attending foras and seminars.
“We will not stop learning,” he said.
Eduardo Diego Ristorante is located along Don Apolinar Velez Street.