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Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar: From local to global success

(The Philippine Star) - April 10, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty years after Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar first opened at a bustling corner of Tomas Morato in Quezon City, part owner-founder Jerome Ngo looks back with delight at how much has happened since then.

He admits that he, and part owner-founder Gerry Apolinario, his highschool buddy, had zero background in cooking, more so in running a restaurant, but with high spirits they took a leap of faith and opened what was initially called, Gerry’s Grill.

Ngo shares that when they started, everything on the menu was based on Gerry’s recipes because he was the talented one when it comes to cooking.

“I don’t know how to cook, but I really like to eat,” he jokes.

With the early success of their first branch, the duo then opened their second branch at Jupiter St. in Makati, which also quickly flourished.

From there, the enterprising duo made a promise to grow the business and eventually started tapping professionals from the corporate world to be part of their new management team.

General manager Antonio Miranda is happy to be part of such a dynamic group where everyone is treated like family.

Ngo says they prefer to maintain this kind of working relationship as this makes communication lines more open among the members of the  management team.

Going international

Having rapidly branched out in the past 20 years, Gerry’s now has 86 stores including the  branches in the US, Singapore and Qatar.

Miranda says that through good word of mouth, interest in Gerry’s continued to flourish, especially from people who want to franchise the brand.

“Interest was not  just limited to those from Filipino communities abroad, but from foreigners as well. We have foreign  partners for our Qatar and Singapore ventures,” Miranda says.

This year alone, Ngo and his team are set to open 20 Gerry’s outlets, which include two restaurants abroad – Hawaii (opened in February) and Houston, Texas, where there are big Filipino communities.

When asked if they ever feel overwhelmed by the rapid growth of Gerry’s, especially in recent years, Ngo says “it’s a welcome kind of stress.”

New market, new challenges

Apart from maintaining the quality of their food (Apolinario is still the main man when it comes to approving new dishes) and service, Miranda says there has also been a need to keep up with the times to attract millenial consumers.

According to Miranda, from marketing  to the upkeep of the stores, they have been consistently on their toes in coming up with ways to better serve their customers.   

As part of  the restaurant’s rebranding efforts, Gerry’s Grill was changed to Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar to erase the wrong impression that the restaurant is limited to just grilled fare. All branches are now fully airconditioned and offer ample parking for comfort and convenience. Even the restaurant’s playlist has been updated to attract the younger demographic.

“The best sellers from before are still present today but more than half of the items have been innovated to suit the needs of the ever changing market without alienating our loyal customers,” Miranda says.

Price points remained the same despite the new investments, according to Ngo.   

“We infused more investments into the business to keep our customers happy. We owe our success to them (customers),’’ Miranda says.

 Miranda says the restaurant’s main strength will always be the food, and while other restaurants prefer to rely on one to three dishes to keep them afloat, Gerry’s prefers to offer guests much more. “So when you dine at Gerry’s, it always feels like a fiesta, with a big spread of food on the table being enjoyed by everyone,” he shares.

Despite the knowledge and success they gained from the success of Gerry’s, Ngo says  they are not resting on their laurels. “We like to maintain this thinking that we are not number one for us to consistently strive harder,” says Ngo. A philosophy that has worked well for the Gerry’s group as it looks forward to the next 20 years. Abby Rebong

 

GERRY’S RESTAURANT & BAR
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