STA. ROSA, LAGUNA—LZM Restaurant has recently achieved what fellow retailers can only dream of—they recently expanded into another stall space at Ayala’s Nuvali 2. Considering that this is the restaurant’s first big mall venture (others are located in Tagaytay and Silang, Cavite where it started), it appears to be a huge success.
Roland Anciro, who runs the place with his brother Manny, affirms that this particular branch was successful from day one.
The Nuvali branch opened in 2011 after Roland decided to come home from New York, USA for good. He was already a US citizen and lived abroad with his family for about 20 years. But having worked two jobs over the last 15 years, one at a car parts manufacturer Micro Contacts and another at Macy’s in Long Island, he realized that he was burned out and wanted to retire in the Philippines.
“It’s better to stay here,” he says about his decision to return. His brother Manny who was then stationed in Africa also came back to help in the business.
LZM stands for the name of three sisters, Luzviminda, Zenaida, and Manolita. Roland’s mother Zeny started selling home-cooked meals at the local market even before getting married and eventually became known for her food. In 1996, the first LZM restaurant with 50 seating capacity was established along the Aguinaldo Highway in Silang, Cavite. It was located in front of the Riviera Golf Course.
Roland, who had the idea of opening the first restaurant, recalls the unpretentious ambiance at the beginning. They only used an electric fan and wooden tables covered by a tablecloth. He also said the place looked like a house more than a formal establishment.
However, Dawn Zulueta’s mother Cleo started visiting the place regularly and gave pointers for improvement. For example, she suggested that they install an air-conditioner and change the tables including removing the tablecloths for a more modern look.
Through word of mouth, golfers from across the street also started patronizing them and many well-known individuals like former President Fidel V. Ramos and the late Geny Lopez (of ABS-CBN) dropped by. Roland further mentions that TV personalities Julius and Tintin Babao were frequent visitors that led to more celebrity clients and TV endorsements. It was also at this Silang restaurant where an Ayala executive discovered their food and eventually offered them a space at Nuvali.
LZM’s popular dishes include boneless bangus, chicharon bulaklak, bulalo, hot and spicy squid, and pinakbet.
“When you order food, that’s the only time we prepare and cook it. That’s why it’s always fresh and tastes good.” Roland also feels that his so-called luck comes from the quality of the food they serve.
They have since opened a bigger 200 seating capacity branch in Tagaytay and have likewise done well, notwithstanding their location along Magallanes Drive that is somewhat hidden.
His sister is now considering another branch in Alabang. His children who are still abroad are not being forced into the business. Roland allows them freedom to choose their own path, although he cites one daughter who has some interest in food. The founder Zeny is already in her 70s but still active in the business.
Roland who is a licensed mechanical engineer has reached unexpected heights through the family business. He feels that success came easily in the latest venture because the restaurant already established a brand name. When asked for a few words of advice for entrepreneurs, Roland responds succinctly, “If you want to be successful in life, you should not be afraid of taking risks.”