This Filipino Couple Quit Their Jobs To Open A Café That Serves Food Like Malunggay Pasta
Rodrigo Escobar and Andy Wong, who are graduates of Business Management and Integrated Marketing Communications, started their career in the corporate world.
“The idea of business started during our employment. We were both dealing with many business people and somehow *naisip din namin na magbusiness kagaya nila. Because we were the ones processing their transactions, then why can’t we do the same?”
(*Translation: we also thought of doing business)
Rodrigo was working for different advertising agencies focusing on digital marketing, while Andy in the digital industry focusing on online shopping.
Maybe you can consider this as a product of two individuals who were brave enough to risk a lot of things and pursue this journey without knowing any positive outcome.
Birth of Sulok Café
In July 2016, Rodrigo and Andy opened Sulok Café in a small corner in Antipolo City.
“We decided to put up a café because it was what was feasible at that time given to us.”
“We thought a café would be proper in this kind of location because firstly, the Antipolo food scene is quickly becoming prominent, as prominent as the ones in Marikina. So with the advent of it, we might as well go in the growth of this industry.”
They added that it is called Sulok, which is the Filipino term for corner, because they believe that the word can attract the attention of other people.
“Sulok is a very flexible word. I believe that every Filipino dialect knows this word. Second, it’s basically a manifestation of that whole idea of people to have one ‘sulok’ or corner barkadas [friends] used to go to.”
Sulok Café’s Unique Food And Student-friendly Ambiance
Sulok Café, with its unique food and student-friendly ambiance, offers a mixture of different types of cuisine like Italian, American and modern Filipino.
Since both of them don’t have any background in culinary arts, they asked a friend who is a chef to conceptualize their menu.
“Our focus is to have something different compared to our competitors, kasi [because] we cannot offer the same products.”
The café offers pasta and pizza with a different variation, using malunggay [moringa]instead of basil or parsley and baguette instead of pizza dough.
“It’s not being different in term of your offer, it’s more of how the products are made or the culinary theme that you get yourself into.”
They added that since their business is still starting, it needed an introduction that will surely bring up their brand’s name.
“We need to be aggressive when it comes to the menu, to the service, to every detail of the shop.”
Other factors that make the café different from others are the writings on the wall and the ambiance of the place which is perfect for hangouts.
“So this place is what it is because of how people treat it to be. Because it’s basically you know how each one of us when we are in our own corner, we label the place, we vandalize on it to tell people that it’s our corner.”
Strategy And Advice For Starters
Coming from the digital industry, the founders know the importance of being active on social media platforms.
“Kelangan active ka digitally kung hindi matatalo ka ng ibang brands. Sonakita na namin ung benefitfrom the very beginning na kelangan naming maging active on social media.”
(*Translation: You need to be active on social media in order for you to compete with other brands. We’ve seen the benefits of being active digitally.)
Sulok Café is currently being followed by 14,451 people on Facebook.
As an advice to aspiring entrepreneurs, both of them said that experience is the best way to learn the rules of business.
“Don’t go into business right away. That’s the worst mistake you can do. The best way to do it is to gain experience through working for startups and corporate. There you will learn operations and you will know the struggles of entrepreneurs.”
In a big company, you learn the operations, in a small company, you learn passion. Stop delaying it by making excuses, by making statements like it’s not yet the time. Because there’s no perfect time talaga [really].