More than 20 years ago, Gerry Apolinario and his high school buddy, Jerome Ngo, opened their first business venture called Gerry’s Grill.
Both of them admitted that they had no any background in cooking, as well as in running a restaurant.
But with high hopes and determination, they took risks and opened their first branch on February 14, 1997.
It was built at a small corner of Tomas Morato in Quezon City. And now, they can’t stop looking back with happiness at how much has happened to them and their business since that first step.
Jerome shared that most of the menus of their restaurant were from Gerry’s recipe list since it was him who was more into cooking.
“I don’t know how to cook, but I really like to eat,” Jerome said to Phil Star.
Gerry’s Grill Into Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar
Their first branch became a success, so they followed it with a second branch located at Jupiter street in Makati.
The latter flourished quickly, and from that, they decided to make strategies such as connecting to people from the corporate world for their management team.
However, since that was the time when grill-themed restaurants were at their hype, they needed to make a distinction among the bunch of restaurants offering grilled food.
“Almost any concept back then had a grill. [Competition] was really cutthroat because they were opening left and right, and their menus were also pretty good.”
“There was an identity struggle then because people would go [and ask]: What was the name of that grill again?” said senior marketing manager, Francis Villaluz, to Inquirer.
So after the trend of grill restaurants ended, Gerry’s Grill had to cope with the next course of dining trends which was Western-style—so they became Gerry’s Restaurant & Bar.
Through the change in the restaurant’s concept, they consistently served a wide variety of Filipino food.
“The owners were young back then. They were 29-year-olds who wanted a place to hang out on a Friday night.”
“That was the original concept, but they went with the flow, so to speak, and when people wanted food and variety, they [gave them] that.”
Now, their outlets are mostly located in places like malls where families, friends or workers usually stay.
“We offer a wide variety, and the combinations of our items are a little bit more festive. And since the Filipino culture involves sharing [food], you get to sample more, which makes our dining experience a little bit more exciting.”
Hello US, Singapore & Qatar!
Having rapidly expanded in more than 20 years, Gerry’s now has 89 stores including their branches in the US, Singapore, and Qatar.
And by the end of the year, the company aims to open their 100th branch.
They said that because of their customers’ fondness for Gerry’s Grill, their branches continued to grow, which also led to interested franchisees contacting them.
“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.”
Their outlets in Singapore are located at the Rasapura Masters food court at Marina Bay Sand, and at the Cuppage Road.
“Aside from expansion, the opening of more branches in Singapore aims to promote Filipino cuisine in locales where many tourists go. It’s about time we go mainstream,” Gerry said to Phil Star.
Featured Image Credit: Phil Star