Bernadine Sy

Okay Bernadine, so you’ve covered chicken and coffee beans, so what’s next?

Who would have thought that the juxtaposition of chicken and coffee could ever describe a business, a lifestyle and what’s more, a person? To begin with: What comes to mind when describing chicken? Practical, down to earth, basic enough to spice up. Coffee, on the other hand, is somewhat of a luxury: distinct, and a source of energy. Chicken is usually associated with reality and necessities, while coffee is associated with dreams, ambitions and goals. All of these put together can be used as a description of the Queen of the successful roast chicken chain, Kenny Rogers and the trendy coffee joint, Seattle’s Best Coffee — Bernadine Sy.

Her family has always been involved in business, mostly consumer brands, such as Jag, Lee and Marie France, to name a few. However, she felt that beauty and apparel can be too limiting. Having always been interested in food as a customer, she decided that she would take it one step further and become directly involved in it. Her first step upon venturing in the franchising world is to bring in the famous American roast chicken chain, Kenny Rogers. When Kenny Rogers came in, it took the public by storm. It offered a variety of different meals and a wide array of side dishes at relatively low prices. To this day, Kenny Rogers is constantly seeking to improve its standards by offering a new selection of side dishes every quarter.

Seeing that her debut in the food business was successful, Bernadine, along with her family members, decided to bring in another franchise. This time, it was Seattle’s Best Coffee. SBC is giving its competitors a run for their money. All five stores are constantly full, especially on weekends. What makes SBC so different from the other coffee joints is "the quality of the coffee bean and the care of which SBC takes in roasting the coffee," she says. "Even if it’s a lighter roast, the flavor is full. Like our slogan says, ‘Bold Flavor, Smooth Taste’." Okay Bernadine, so you’ve covered chicken and coffee, so what’s next? Yes, that’s right! There’s more! She will be bringing in Nathan’s Hotdogs, the official hotdog of the Yankee Stadium in New York. Little stands of all beef hotdogs with natural casings will soon be popping up around malls and foodcourts, so watch out!

But it’s not all business with the lady, though. Bernadine claims that she loves to travel, about two to four times a year. "I always take time to go to the best places to eat. Oh, and I also like nature tripping." She acquired a master’s degree in management at Northwestern University in Chicago and lived there for three years. She was the first in her family to be away for so long. In the beginning, she claimed that she was "so thrilled to eat all the McDonalds, deep dish pizzas, Ihop, etc. until I really missed the food at home." Confessing that this posed a problem for her because she didn’t know how to cook, she had to ask her mother to send her recipes from home. She had to hold dinners for her friends, who became guinea pigs for her novice cooking skills. Eventually, she became very good at it. This obviously is where she acquired her background and love for food, which led her to her business, which she loves so much.

Although she enjoys going out with friends, going to concerts and movies, and squeezing in at least two golf games a week in her busy schedule, she claims that her "particular lifestyle is my work that I love." She says that friends describe her as not only a type-A sort of person — very driven, goal-oriented and with high energy levels, she is an A2 . Although a self-confessed perfectionist, "worry-wart" and workaholic, she won’t deny herself the finer things in life, namely food. "My friends and I have always liked to go abroad on food trips," she says.

So passionately driven is she by a sensationalized necessity, food and her bipolar fondness for both work and a leisurely lifestyle that it turned her no only into the Queen of coffee and chicken but also the Queen of juxtaposition. Her main success in life is not the success of her franchises but her being able to integrate her love for food in her highly demanding work.


Having always been interested in food as a customer, she decided that she would take it one step further and become directly involved in it.

The Queen of Roast (Chicken and Coffee Beans)

Photography by Jo Avila

Make-up by Koala

Venue: Seattle’s Best, Rockwell

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