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Sangkalan shares recipe for success

Crispy Pata

Crispy Pata

While immobilized in a traffic jam in a major thoroughfare in Quezon City sometime in 1991, upstart entrepreneur Carlos de Guzman Jr. could not help but marvel at the economic potential of a piece of real estate property there.

The property had a small barbecue stand for pedestrians, but de Guzman thought it could be more productive when transformed into a restaurant. He had the gut feel it could earn tons of money because it is in an area that has a big market.

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De Guzman had quit his old job as a pharmaceutical salesman to become an entrepreneur. A few days later, de Guzman returned to Visayas Avenue, sought the property owner, and negotiated for workable terms.

Pooling his savings and some borrowed funds, de Guzman opened on Oct. 25, 1991 the first Sangkalan restaurant in Quezon City.

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The restaurant with the “very Filipino” name aims to service the working class and provide middle class ambience.

As business turned brisk and encouraging, de Guzman did not hesitate to expand and consider a second restaurant.

Seafood Platter

Seafood Platter

He felt his business model of a middle class type restaurant serving a big working class market with essentially Filipino cuisine could be duplicated elsewhere.

Thus, the second Sangkalan restaurant was born on Aug. 9, 1993 in a business decision that defies elementary logic.

Again, his decision to open a second restaurant was based on gut feel.

Although he had only 22 months of experience as restaurant entrepreneur, he acquired and developed a vacant grassy lot along Scout Albano St. in Barangay South Triangle in Quezon City and converted it into a restaurant, which is no different from its Visayas Avenue counterpart.

De Guzman has the working class as the market of his two restaurants. To get their patronage, he has to make sure he could offer them prompt and efficient services.

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Hence, de Guzman has trained his managers and staff to provide services more than the customers could expect.

“What we all earn and provide for our families come from our customers,” de Guzman said.

The two Sangkalan restaurants today are not only for dining. They have evolved into entertainment places, where customers could listen to musicians, too. Customers want inexpensive but clean entertainment to unwind after a day’s hard work, he said.

For him, providing customers with the opportunity for fine dining and clean fun is like hitting two birds with one stone. It makes sense from a business standpoint.

People enjoy good food, booze and music at Sangkalan Grill.

People enjoy good food, booze and music at Sangkalan Grill.

But a business model, no matter how sound, could not go far in restaurant business without personal supervision.

Over the years, de Guzman has built friendship with customers, who keep on coming back to enable his restaurants to flourish. He remembered a pair of lovebirds, who had their first date in his restaurant. The guy proposed marriage to his partner there and held their wedding reception in his restaurant.

“I was among the wedding sponsors. When the kids came, they had their baptismal receptions here. Until now, they come here and dine as family,” de Guzman said to acknowledge the business relations that has transformed into friendship over the years.

Celebrities had dined too at Sangkalan. The late Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces regularly had Sunday lunch there; Kris Aquino too.

Sangkalan is celebrating its 25th anniversary this month and so far, de Guzman has proven the old adage that hard work, perseverance and persistence coupled with the rightful business model could lead to success.

Caloy de Guzman

Caloy de Guzman

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