Thursday, March 17, 2005

Filipino food served ‘hawker’ style

Business Times p.B1
Thursday, March 17, 2005

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Filipino food served 'hawker' style

One of the simple pleasures Filipinos enjoy is street foods-goto (porridge with tripe slices), squid balls, kikiam, quek-quek (fried quail eggs), chicharong balat ng manok (fried chicken skin), fried tokwa (tofu), different kinds of barbecues and different refreshments like gulaman, sago and buko. Whenever I go to Market! Market! on weekend afternoons I eat goto and quek-quek or tokwa at RapSaKalye. Total cost? P24 and with gulaman, P34. Sometimes with a vegetable salad, it becomes my dinner. Hot, fresh from the pot, clean, yummy, nutritious, low-cost meal, di ba?

RapSaKalye is owned and managed by a group of young entrepreneurs who are endeavoring to professionalize street foods vending with the vision, "We will become one of the top three food-cart businesses in the Philippines with 400 food carts across the country by the year 2008.

According to owners Saj Guevara, Vivoy Añonuevo and Marc Reyes, their mission is "to be the recognized leader in the food-cart business by delivering to the commuting public the utmost quality and value-for-money food products and services. "We will delight our patrons with a clean, interesting and unique cart image. We will make them come back for more by always providing them good-tasting products served excellently by competent, customer-centered and friendly staff. We will generate sufficient profits for the owners and for the improvement of the lives of our employees."

Saj said that they would not want to be just another vendor offering similar food lines. Although they sell street foods by the roadside, they don't like to position their uniquely designed (RapSaKalye Jeep) cart on sidewalks or streets where they might be violating certain laws and contributing to the mayhem in busy areas. Instead, they position themselves properly and pay rent for space they use; thus, become good corporate citizens, too, while doing business.

Saj, Viboy and Marc are proud to say that they are all hands on in their operations. Each of them know how to operate the cart themselves. Right now, they are maintaining few people so they have less overheads to maintain. Their company owns branches in Market! Market! and Aurora Boulevard (across Broadway Centrum) while seven are franchised. Saj says they are actually in the business of franchising, rather than food retailing.

Another factor that differentiates them from all other vendors of street foods is their cart concept of "street foods, all in one cart." They use the concept and look of typical jeepneys to represent that they are, indeed, into street foods. Their menu boards look like the signages used by jeepneys. The working space and arrangement of the counter top is done to give fluid motion to their carefully trained service crew.

They consider the display or the showcase as a very important part of the cart. This makes their food easily visible and well presented for the customers to just point their fingers at the food they want to order.

At the end of the day, using the balanced scorecard, they want to measure success in these key result areas:

Financial: Economic value added (EVA), number of food carts spread across the Philippines, sales volume and number of franchisees

Customers: Percentage of repeat customers, number and frequency of customer commendations or complaints, awards and recognition by the business community, the government or other significant organizations, customers' degree of delight according to customer survey.

Processes: Quality of franchisees, quality and ease of food preparation, services to franchisees.

Learning & Growth: Competitive compensation and benefits for employees, continuous training and development of employees, employee turnover, number of job applicants compared to similar establishments.

Eventually, Saj, Viboy and Marc are dreaming to own and operate their very own fine dining restaurant. Right now, they are more than happy to give RapSaKalye's customers, "a smile in every bite."

(Moje Ramos-Aquino, president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp., assists organizations achieve organizational excellence through development of people, leadership, teams and organization. Her e-mail address is

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