Ilustrado does PH proudBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippines’ hosting of the 45th annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank has been dubbed the country’s “coming out” party to show the world how far the Philippines has gone.
Coming out parties, such as the Manila 2012, are not complete without food. And one restaurant that the ADB itself listed on its official iPhone app on Manila 2012 is Ilustrado in the historic district of Intramuros.
That Ilustrado has become the place to go to for Spanish style cuisine as well as classic Filipino and continental dishes is due in no small part to the passion and dedication of Boni and Rose Pimentel, the husband-and-wife team who put up the restaurant in 1989.
Boni, who worked his way up in the culinary world from waiter to restaurant manager and then owner, says he is still very much a hands-on supervisor of the restaurant, preferring to be on top of most of the work himself and not just rely on employees.
Rose is just as involved, considering her background as a restaurant administrative manager.
His experience in the front lines combined with her facility with numbers make them a formidable team, indeed, and they are passing on all they know about the business to their four children, Bettina, Bea, Bernice and RJ.
According to Boni, the owner must tend to even the smallest of details, such as sourcing the ingredients, talking to suppliers, supervising the staff and making sure that service is impeccable, in order to make a name in the crowded restaurant business.
“You have to learn the hard way, you cannot just give instructions. You have to be on top of everything,” shares Boni.
Boni emphasizes that consistency of service and quality of food is the key to gaining a reputation for excellence.
Customers who are satisfied each and every time they come through the restaurant doors become the best sources of new customers, since they will be more than willing to put in a good word to their friends, colleagues and family.
They need to be assured that they will always get what they paid for, that their favorite callos, paella and lengua, for example, will taste the same the next time they come in for a meal, if not better.
“Never sacrifice quality,” Boni says.
With this commitment to consistently meeting customers’ high standards, Ilustrado has been able to rely mainly on word of mouth among the movers and shakers of Philippine society to grow its business.
From Intramuros, the Pimentels have branched out to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila’s Metcafé, a trendy coffee shop serving Manila’s art aficionados, and SM Makati with Café Ilustrado servicing the SM Prestige Club lounge visitors and the store’s shoppers in the 4th level.
Ilustrado has also ventured into retail through Pasteleria Ilustrado, which was born out of the restaurant clients’ clamor for cakes, pastries, breads and savories. These retail outlets in the form of kiosks or carts have branches in major malls in the city.
But what Ilustrado will always be known for is its Spanish style and heirloom Filipino food and some of those who came for the Philippines’ coming out party tasted for themselves what so many have enjoyed over the past 23 years.
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