Want just the lechon belly? Call Bai
Robert Dexter Ding is a dutiful son. In December 2014, he started a small business, hopped on a motorcycle to deliver Cebu lechon porchetta to pork lovers in Metro Manila in order to help pay for the hospital bills of his father who had been confined for almost a year.
Dexter coined the name Bai’s Lechon as a reference to the Cebuano term for friend or pare—“bai.”
Only three days after the business opened, however, his father passed away. Regrettably, the inspiration for Bai’s Lechon did not live long enough to see its success. (I am inclined to believe, though, that it may have been through the guiding light of Dexter’s father’s spirit that the business has grown with incredible success. Business booms when you have a silent partner in heaven.)
“I was inspired to start Bai’s because I missed our lechon in Cebu. Eating Cebu lechon was like bonding for me and my dad,” Dexter recalls. “We lived in the city center but our favorite was always going to Carcar. It was lechon heaven.”
So with just P50,000 as investment, one brick oven, a second-hand scooter and a few printed delivery boxes, Dexter started Bai’s Boneless Cebu Lechon.
Cebu lechon porchetta
Instead of delivering a whole lechon, Bai’s delivers boxes of lechon porchetta with all the aromas and flavors of Cebu lechon, utilizing his favorite part—the belly.
He chose to deliver just porchetta because, by experience, he always felt shortchanged whenever he had to buy a whole pig just to enjoy the belly.
The business started with an offering of just three sizes: family, which could feed 4-5 persons; barkada, good for 10-15; and party, good for 20-25.
Dexter would sometimes personally deliver the lechon to customers. He even recalls one Christmas when he was on his way to a formal dinner and had to fulfill an order. He got on the motorcycle and delivered the lechon in a tuxedo.
Bai’s lechon stores
In October 2015, business was good enough for another investment. The company bought its first industrial oven. The Christmas that same year, they churned out a ton’s worth, or around 1,000 kilos of packed boneless lechon.
Soon, from offering primarily in the south/Alabang area, they started also delivering to Quezon City, Cavite, Laguna, East Pasig up to Marikina for a flat delivery charge.
By December 2016, just two years from operating with just one little brick oven in Alabang and a secondhand motorcycle, Bai’s opened two stores: one in Pasig and one in Biñan, Laguna (now closed). Today, Bai’s has three fully functioning stores in Alabang, Pasig and Pampanga.
They now also offer carving stations, a big hit in corporate parties. (See details below on how to order.)
Bai has also been doing pop-ups recently. “We open pop-ups during the holidays to make the lechon accessible to our patrons who stay in areas where we usually deliver but can’t because of the Christmas season. This year, we have pop-ups in Tanauan, Batangas; Otis-Manila; Bacoor, Cavite; and in the Alex & Claude store in the F1 Hotel in BGC,” Dexter shares. By Christmas and New Year’s Eve, however, expect they are already sold out.
Besides the porchetta, Bai’s now also offers all-meat sisig and roast chicken infused with tamarind.
Best of all, Bai’s lechon is very affordable. The Boneless Lechon Cebu is only P720 for the family size, P1,800 for the barkada size and P2,850 for the party size.
I also like that you don’t need to buy a whole lechon or even a cochinillo to get your lechon fix.
What keeps Dexter inspired to expand the business, though, is the fulfillment it brings as well as the memory of his dad.
“It’s very fulfilling, doing something that can be bigger than yourself,” he reflects. “Some say it brings them back to their Cebu hometown. Others appreciate that we deliver as early as 5:00 a.m. It’s the smiles and the simple thank yous that mean a lot.”
Of his father, Dexter says, “I hope he is happy. I hope he is proud and loves what we do.”
Without a doubt, he is.
For orders, call 0917-5825333 (covers most areas in the South); for Pasig, call 0917-8341010 (covers Pasig, BGC, Ortigas, Marikina and Quezon City); for Pampanga, call 0925-7076483 (covers all towns in Pampanga). Visit pop-up stores in Batangas, BGC, Otis and Bacoor, Cavite (call 0917-5825333). For orders using credit card, go online at www.baisbonelesslechon.com. Orders require a three-day notice.
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