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Burgoo, Gumbo prepare for franchising

By: - Reporter / @neltayao
/ 12:10 AM September 18, 2016
Albert Alavera and Eileen Necio

Albert Alavera and Eileen Necio

Like fruits ready for harvest, two Filipino companies behind two American-cuisine eateries are now “ripe” enough to begin a new phase in their business: Opening their restaurants for franchising.

Having lasted 17 years in the competitive food and beverage industry, Specialty Restaurant Inc. and Well-Loved Seafood Harvest Inc., the sister companies behind  Burgoo and Gumbo, respectively, have decided to finally venture into franchising to “be able to provide more employment and explore our full potential,” says Specialty Restaurant Inc. managing director Albert Alavera.

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“We need to grow so we can last longer and continue providing good food for the next generations,” says Alavera.

While the details are still in the works, Alavera says they have already begun eyeing potential locations in Cebu and Davao, and even in neighboring Southeast Asian countries. They plan to officially roll out their franchising options in 2017.

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All of Burgoo’s 13 and Gumbo’s six outlets are currently company-owned and -controlled.

Alavera, who conceptualized both restaurants and named them after American stews, was hired by the company’s owners (the Rodriguez family, headed by Teresa Santos Rodriguez) in 1998. He considers all 19 stores “his office.”

“I make it a point to visit all our stores to check on operations. My visit would always include [checking on] kitchen and dining, the produce—everything, with the help of our general manager Eileen Necio,” he says. “We are lucky that Mrs. Rodriguez gives us the leeway to do what’s best for the company.”

Alavera’s penchant for being a hands-on manager stems from his 30-year career experience, which saw him first working as a dishwasher in Pizza Hut. His is a classic “rose from the ranks” story: From dishwasher, he became a server, management trainee, assistant manager, restaurant manager, area manager, district manager, division head, and then, finally, the pizza chain’s vice president of operations.

After leaving Pizza Hut, Alavera also worked as food services division head of the Araneta Group of Companies’ Ali Mall, Farmers Plaza and Araneta Coliseum.

“The knowledge I gained in those positions were helpful when I became managing director [of Specialty Restaurant Inc.] because I believe experience is still the best teacher,” says the BA Business Administration (Major in Marketing and Management) graduate from the University of the East.

When he came up with the Burgoo concept, Alavera says he purposely veered away from Filipino food as it was already something people could cook at home.

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“I wanted something different. Another Filipino restaurant seemed corny at the time,” says Alavera. Burgoo serves typical American fare—chicken wings, fries, ribs, pizza—in huge portions, with a touch of Pinoy taste.

Gumbo, which opened five years after Burgoo, is focused more on New Orleans cuisine. “New Orleans is a haven for food and culture. I immersed myself in that by enrolling in a culinary school there,” Alavera says.

So is he anxious about the possible effect franchising may have on the quality of the restaurants’ menus?

“Our team is prepared and ripe already to face the opportunities we may have with franchising,” says Alavera. “We will just continue to do what we are doing and improve what needs to be improved.”

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TAGS: Albert Alavera, Burgoo, Business, food, Franchising, Gumbo
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