How This Multi-Million Popcorn Business Began Its Success in the Cemetery

A businessman shared the humble beginnings of his popular popcorn business. The cemetery became Tony Elipanio’s lucky place as it paved the way for the success of his Chef Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn.

Image by Chef Tony’s Store

The cemetery may seem like a desolate place. However, for Chef Tony, the place brings fond memories of how he hit the jackpot in his business. According to the entrepreneur, the popcorn business idea came to his mind back when he was fond of traveling. He would usually enjoy eating it on long trips. But like any dedicated entrepreneur, Chef Tony thought of elevating it to make it his own.

“Alam mo yung popcorn is really a product nung dati mahilig akong bumiyahe. Nakita ko maganda siguro ito pero kailangan meron akong idea kung anong gusto ko para sa kanya. Kaya pinag-aralan ko siya ng mabuti,” Chef Tony explained on ABS-CBN’s My Puhunan.

Starting his own popcorn business

Before Chef Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn reached the malls and groceries, it began in the street of a cemetery. Chef Tony recalled that he first approached his father to inform him that he wanted to build his first store. But his dad discouraged him.

Chef Tony said, “Sabi niya ‘Wag ka muna magbukas ng tindahan. Alam mo tuwing November 1, maraming tao sa sementeryo.'”

Image by Chef Tony’s Store

So, the popular Chef Tony’s popcorn started exactly on November 1, 2005 in a cemetery. He was a bit doubtful if people would understand his caramel popcorn, especially because it was a bit costly. “Sa labas ng sementeryo, yung ibang popcorn limang piso lang, may kulay pa. Samantalang yung sa akin mas mahal P25. Baka hindi nila maintindihan,” he recalled.

But his doubts proved him wrong as their first day was a huge success. They earned over P100,000, which meant they sold over 400 cups in one day. For the businessman, he knew that he already had a good and profitable product to sell.

Continued product improvement

Chef Tony’s began selling his popcorn right at the parking lot of his restaurant. That way, he didn’t have to pay rent.

Despite the budding success of his business, Chef Tony continued to innovate and improve his product. He studied how to make his popcorn more round and with less hard bits of kernels. This paved the way for Chef Tony’s to have that unique look and texture compared with others.

chef tony popcorn
Image by Chef Tony’s Store

The rest they say is history. Now, Chef Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn can be seen all over the country, in stalls, stores, malls and groceries. This only goes to show how a simple product can be elevated to become a profitable business venture.

Sally Mae
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