Filipino Entrepreneur Dowel Deligos,
Why did you establish your own business? Can you tell us when and how you started?
I started Adobo Restaurant in March 28, 2014. I worked at Muscat Duty Free when I came to Oman as a Marketing Executive and decided to establish my own business along with the help of my Omani business partners, Ibrahim and Salim.
I wanted to serve authentic Filipino cuisine to the Filipino community, locals and foreigners in Muscat and the surrounding areas, and to become a introduce and popularize Filipino cuisine to other nationalities. We concentrate on dishes from the southern regions of the Philippines so as to offer something different from the usual fare of Filipino restaurants in Oman. These are dishes that I would normally cook at home. As our aim is to extend our customer base beyond the Filipino community, we are endeavoring to cook and present our dishes at a high standard of home cooking quality and family-style serving.
What was your start-up capital and your basic operations set-up? (How did you operate? How many employees? What about your place of business?
The seed money for a business here in Oman is quite high compared to that in the Philippines. The capital paid for the essential infrastructure of the business, such as the restaurant seating setup, and kitchen and cooking equipment.
We started off with a staff of three, including me, and as the business grew, we were able to afford to hire one staff more after five months. As of now, we are planning to increase our staff with three more people coming in, after we get the Ministry approvals for Visa availability.
We are located in the Seeb area of Muscat, on a quiet street off the main road. The interior set up of the restaurant is very typical and traditional Filipino style where you will feel the atmosphere of dining in a bahay-kubo. There is also a collection of Filipino ornaments like ukulele, sungka, native fans and hats, lamparilya, and native plates.
What obstacles did you encounter?
The core problem is having to wait an entire year before the business plan could be practically implemented. There was also the issue of business partners; these were changed three times during the course of events. Next, we had to overcome the bureaucratic hassles involved in procuring work Visas for our Filipino staff contingent and securing the various municipality approvals regarding such issues. Also of prime concern was ascertaining tastes in the line of food and beverages.
Where are you now? How far have you gone? What are the landmarks in your business so far?
We started the business with four Filipino staff, including myself, and we are planning to soon employ more staff this year as the business grows and the number of our guests increase. In God’s will, we are targeting to expand in the next two years.
We are now in the stage of promoting the traditional Filipino way of eating—‘kamayan’ style. Along with this is the use of banana leaves in lieu of plates. We are proud to share Filipino food and culture to locals and foreigners, and to our kababayans who miss this style of eating now that they are away from our homeland.
We have a menu which offers a great variety of meat, fish, noodles, and vegetarian dishes, along with an assortment of desserts. As well as offering traditional Filipino drinks, we have been innovative in our concoctions by devising a number of unique blends based on different Filipino-inspired themes, such as the Mt. Mayon Lava, Boracay Island and Sandugo drinks.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur?
The disadvantage is that you’ll never know whether or not you will succeed. The risk factor is always there, as well as the vagaries of the marketplace.
However, there are also advantages, such as being able to set my own high standards and striving to achieve goals. It feels satisfying to see what you have accomplished. We at adobo AFC Restaurant are in the process of perpetual improvement and innovation, and we aim to provide quality service to our valued customers.
Would you encourage other Filipinos to go into business? What is your advice to budding Filipino entrepreneurs?
Yes, I would recommend that my fellow Pinoys to go into business. For those who are willing to take a calculated risk and run the bureaucratic gauntlet, the rewards are great. But diligence, patience, hard work, sheer dedication, and perseverance are the qualities which are the ‘order of the day’ for any budding entrepreneur.