Resto banks on customers to spread word-A A +A
Monday, January 14, 2013
A RECENTLY opened Japanese restaurant is banking on networking and word of mouth to expand its clientele.
Entrepreneurs Anna Marizza Ng, 28; Dianne Kristine Chan Lim, 27; and Kane D. Chan Lim, 25, opened The Yaki House Yakiniku in Banilad, Cebu City on Dec. 12 as a “chill out” destination where food aficionados can try Japanese cuisine at affordable rates.
According to chef Ng, knowing a lot of people and spreading through word of mouth are important in business, especially here in Cebu where the market is very hard to please. She said Cebuanos are adventurous eaters and would really go for varied, tasty and inexpensive food.
“We resorted to all-you-can-eat to address the challenge in promotion. Since the three of us have different circles of friends, we are able to invite more. Networking strategy extends our clientele as we establish fan base,” Ng said.
As for Dianne, maintaining good service helps them earn their clients’ trust, with many people coming in for the first time.
“Good food and good service keep customers coming back,” she said. The restaurant now has returning customers, especially during dinnertime on weekends, she said.
Engaging with diners and performing service jobs with their 12 employees, Ng and the Chan Lims are hands-on with the business.
With students, families and office workers, including foreigners, as regulars, Ng is confident they are able to cater to a wide market.
Dianne pointed out that by attracting students they are also able to tap upper categories.
Ng said there is an upsurge in interest on Japanese and Korean cooking in the city, particularly in the north.
Ng said Japanese and Korean restaurants contribute 30 percent to 40 percent of the booming food business in Cebu.
The three entrepreneurs have been friends since high school. They graduated from the University of San Carlos. Diane finished a course in pharmacy while her brother Kane took up management accounting. Ng, who earned a degree in business administration, took a second course in culinary arts in the International Culinary Arts Academy Cebu.
The restaurant, as inspired by Yakiniku, the Japanese word for grilled meat, sits in a 500 square meter lot owned by the Chan Lims. It accommodates 50 to 60 persons and accepts reservations in the function room for up to 20 people.
Dianne said it was Kane’s idea to convert the lot into a restaurant instead of renting it out, as suggested by their parents.
Yaki House cooks its dishes on smokeless charcoal grill. Ng said they offer the cheapest Japanese all-you-can-eat buffet in the city, considering the quantity of food options in the menu.
Inclusive of unlimited rice, pork, beef, chorizo, fresh seafood and dessert, lunch and dinner are at P360 and P400 per head, respectively. Ala carte menu is available from P50 to P200 while drinks cost from P40 to P150.
Dianne said they are particular on the cleanliness of their stock as they are serving raw meat. Pork and chorizo are bought direct from the farm of the Chan Lims while seafood is imported from Bantayan. Beef is imported from America.
The Yaki House Yakiniku is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for lunch and 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for dinner.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 15, 2013.