Local restaurant marks 2 decades of success in Cebu’s dining scene

FIRST BRANCH. The first Nonki Japanese Restaurant was opened on April 18, 2004, on A.S. Fortuna St., Mandaue City.
FIRST BRANCH. The first Nonki Japanese Restaurant was opened on April 18, 2004, on A.S. Fortuna St., Mandaue City. KATLENE O. CACHO-LAUREJAS

DESPITE the challenges of shifting consumer preferences and economic uncertainties, a Cebu-based Japanese restaurant chain has reached a milestone, celebrating 20 years in the food industry this month.

And as it looks ahead to the next 20 years and beyond, restaurateur Ma. Ligaya Machida, owner of Nonki Restaurant, said they remain committed to embracing new opportunities for growth and innovation now that she is also joined by her son, Junichi, in managing the restaurant’s expansion.

In an interview, she announced they’ll be opening two more branches this year.

Since opening its doors on April 18, 2004, Nonki Restaurant has been a vital part of Cebu’s thriving food scene, known for serving authentic Japanese cuisines to both locals and foreign tourists.

From its humble beginnings as a cozy neighborhood restaurant along A.S. Fortuna St. in Mandaue City that was single-handedly managed by Machida in 2004, Nonki has become a must-visit Japanese restaurant now with 12 branches to date in Cebu, Davao, Bohol and Iloilo.

Reflecting on the journey, Machida, in an interview, attributed the restaurant’s success to a combination of hard work, passion and a deep understanding of customers’ evolving tastes and preferences. More importantly, she credited the growth of the business to its loyal customers and hardworking employees.

“Over the years, we’ve stayed true to our vision of offering authentic Japanese cuisine while constantly striving to innovate and exceed our guests’ expectations,” she said.

“We wanted to express our gratitude to our loyal customers and celebrate this milestone in a way that honors the journey we’ve been on together,” Machida added.

Asked about the biggest challenge she went through as an entrepreneur, Machida recalled that the Covid-19 pandemic forced her to navigate uncharted waters to keep the business afloat.

“We were faced with challenges we had never anticipated,” she said. “But instead of getting discouraged, we confronted the adversity with resilience and innovation.”

Machida’s team rolled up their sleeves and got to work, implementing innovative strategies to keep the business running. Her employees worked double-time to continue the restaurant’s operation even in the digital space.

Since indoor dining was limited some kitchen staff and servers volunteered to deliver orders booked online.

“Everyone went the extra mile in helping the restaurant cope with the crisis. That is also one of the reasons we are still here in the business,” said Machida.

To mark Nonki’s 20th anniversary, Machida said Nonki (except Davao branch) will be rolling out a 20 percent discount on the total bill for all its customers on April 18. This promo is valid for dine-in customers only.

Looking ahead, Machida said Nonki is set to open another branch in Cebu and Davao this year.

Machida said the strong local customer base has been helping them sustain their business, alongside the growing foreign tourists visiting Cebu.

She said they are now positioning their restaurants for the full rebound of Cebu’s local tourism and economy.

In 2023, Machida and her son Junichi opened Koshima Japanese Restaurant and Nonki Express at The Mall of Nustar Cebu. (KOC)


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