Breaking out of Cebu

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Thursday, January 31, 2013


THOUGH it is the youngest out of the three brands under the Harbour City Dimsum House Co., Inc., Dimsum Break’s fast food setup has allowed it to be their fastest growing brand.

After opening 11 stores all over Metro Cebu, the management of Dimsum Break took the giant leap out of their home base and opened their first store outside of Cebu.

Dimsum Break opened their first outside branch at the SM North Edsa in Manila last September, said marketing manager Steven Charles Kokseng. He said this is one of the busiest malls in Manila as it serves as a transport hub, located near an MRT interchange.

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While he noted many Cebuanos who have moved to Manila welcomed their move to open a new branch there, Kokseng also hopes to win over many Manileños with their unique way of serving dimsum.

For one, he believes most of them will want to try dining at the place because it’s new. He is also confident that the way they serve dimsum makes it convenient for diners in a hurry but in need of a good meal.

“A lot of restaurants serve dimsum, but none of them do it the way we do,” he said.

Dimsum Break, which is part of the Harbour City group comprising Harbour City and Ding Qua Qua restaurants, was first opened in 1996 in response to requests from customers who came from a mall’s bowling center. Those who ended up finishing their bowling games late at night had nowhere to dine after their games.

Kokseng said that since the area was not big enough for a traditional teahouse concept with dimsum carts, they thought of changing the setup into a fastfood chain but still serving the same food they have been serving since the old Ding How opened on Colon St. in 1969.

Their best seller, the steamed fried rice, is the same recipe his grandfather Henry Uytengsu developed for the old Ding How. The dish makes up 20 percent of their total sales.

Many do not associate the brand with bowling, but Kokseng said the word break is also a bowling term to entice late-night bowlers and those leaving the movie theaters.

They also cut down the menu to just the bestsellers from their restaurants and allowed them to pick their dishes and go to the nearest booth to eat them. “It’s a no-frills set-up,” he said.

He added that they are grateful to the management of SM City Cebu for offering them the spot beside the bowling center aside from the main Harbor City restaurant at the basement level. “SM gave us the opportunity. They also put in a good word for us in Manila,” he explained.

Aside from branching outside of Cebu, they also want to give franchising a try.

He admitted that many have a misconception that offering their brand for franchise is the easy way to expand. For Kokseng, it also has its challenges.

He pointed out that by entering into a partnership with a franchisee, they will need to make sure standards are met and that they will provide the support required of the business.

They hope to offer Dimsum Break for franchising in Metro Manila and are optimistic of the results, noting inquiries about it from as far back as five years ago.

Kokseng said the opportunities to expand via franchising are ripe, with many malls scattered around Manila.

They expect to open two to three more branches there within the year. For now, he said they are focusing on expanding the Dimsum Break brand.

Kokseng also announced a new delivery hotline that the group came up with to encourage more deliveries, saying their delivery sales are also picking up.

They set up a contact center to dispatch all deliveries for orders made via 2DIMSUM (2346786) to the nearest Dimsum Break, Ding Qua Qua And Harbour City branch. Of the Harbour Group’s 16 restaurants, eight of these offer deliveries.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 31, 2013.

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