Entrepreneur finds niche in Filipino home-cooked meals-A A +A
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
A FILIPINO-CHINESE entrepreneur has found his niche in Filipino home cuisine.
Steven Edward L. Tan turned his passion for cooking to his advantage when he first ventured into the food business in December 2006 by opening Kul Kitchen, a restaurant serving home-cooked meals at the Cebu IT Park.
Tan said his knack for all things culinary began at home when he would experiment on food and cook for his family.
After earning a degree in computer science, the 28-year-old businessman enrolled at the Philippine School of Culinary Arts, graduated in 2005 and considered finding opportunities abroad.
Plans were altered when Tan’s father was diagnosed with cancer the following year and he decided to open a restaurant instead.
Kul Kitchen, which had an intial investment of P800,000, found good market reception at the city’s IT hub, prompting the Tans to renovate the restaurant for P1.2 million and open a second outlet with the same amount in August 2011 in Capitol Site, Cebu City.
In sync with Kul’s expansion projects, Tan decided to expand to the north by launching Kulsina Seafood and Grill last year at the J Center Mall in Mandaue City, investing P4 million for the newest branch.
Tan took the absence of spacious function rooms inside mall dining places in the area as a cue to consider a function room with a 60-person capacity at the second floor.
Kul Kitchen Capitol has two function rooms, each good for 50 and 30 people booked mostly for pharmaceutical activities and meetings.
Although TV and radio ads help in promotion, Tan pointed out that being situated in a mall like J Center Mall which has regular events, draws people in.
Tan said they wanted to add a twist to the menu yet retaining the name Kul, which, according to Tan’s sister, is a Hindu term for house or home.
Citing food innovation as Kulsina’s edge in the competition, Tan described Kulsina not just as an extension of Kul Kitchen’s home-cooked meals but as a fusion of his own creations and popular Filipino dishes, with a touch of foreign flavors.
He explained that Filipinos explore other tastes after trying something familiar first.
With prices in two and three digit combos, Kulsina caters to call center employees and mid-income families. He said these are the customers who go for quality and affordable food without getting bored with dining on the same place.
Tan said Kulsina picks up on Fridays, Sundays and pay days while they are not as full on Saturdays.
Tan admitted the competition is tough but the challenge lies in looking for ways to gain the trust of customers.
With three established restaurants, Tan is aiming for a full service catering in the future. He said it is a strategy which increases the chance of tapping a broader audience.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 07, 2013.