Did you know that the entrepreneur behind Reyes Barbacue is a graduate of Mechinical Engineering?
But instead of practicing his profession, Francisco “Frank” Reyes decided to continue their family culinary tradition. His maternal grandmother Engracia Cruz Reyes was the founder of The Aristocrat, the longest surviving restaurant in the Philippines.
“Naisip ko mahiyain ako. Pag iniinterview ninenerybyos ako, mahirap akong ma-employ eh. So i-nano ko na lang na gumawa ng sariling negosyo. Palagay ko sa negosyo ako sisikat. At kung ako’y magtratrabaho, baka mamaya maging andun lang ako sa pinaka-lowest level at hindi ako marunong sa pulitika. Baka hindi ako ma-promote kawawa naman ako,” Reyes told My Puhunan.
After 10 years of running his own franchise businesses in various popular malls in Manila, Reyes was forced to take a big risk after his franchise renewal application was not approved. At that time, there was no popular barbecue joint in the Philippines. Thus in 2002, he founded Reyes Barbecue.
“Nung early years wala pang sikat na barbecue. Meron sikat sa litsong manok. Meron sikat sa hamburger, sa fried chicken, meron sa mga pasta, pizza. Pero kung titingnan mo nung 2002, wala pa. So ala nga namang maghamburger ako. So naisip ko kasi nag-aral din ako ng marketing, mahilig ako magbasa about marketing yung strategy: ang itinda mo ay yung hindi tinitinda ng iba.”
In order to come up with his own barbecue formulation, Frank tried all barbecue products he could find around Metro Manila.
Initially, Frank struggled with his business because his brand of barbecue was completely unknown and the product was so cheap and available almost anywhere. He also had difficulty convincing SM City North Edsa and Shangri La Mall to allow him to put up stores under his new business concept.
Reyes Barbecue was launched at the SM North Edsa Foodcourt in 2003 and Shangri La Mall Foodcourt in 2004. He then experienced a drop of more than 50% in sales compared to his former franchise businesses.
Instead of giving up, Reyes persisted. In no time, Reyes Barbecue’s sales surpassed the sales of his former franchise businesses.
The third Reyes Barbecue store was launched at the food court of 168 Shopping Mall in Binondo, Manila in 2005. This particular store became so successful that people became interested in franchising it. To date, Reyes Barbecue has over 50 stores and even has franchise applications from the United States and Singapore. It also has its own Commissary, Cold Storage as well as Head Office in San Juan City, Metro Manila.
Explaining Reyes Barbecue’s brand pillars, Reyes said: “We have two anchors of our brand differentiation : 1) our culinary heritage spanning more than 100 years, coming from my two Lolas – Great Grand Lola Luisang Kari and Grandmother Lola Asiang ; and 2) the authenticity of our brand’s unique selling proposition as expressed in our taglines “Barbecue. Peanut Sauce. Java Rice. Best way to go !” and “The Reyes Way is the Way to Go !”
Hoping to pass his family’s culinary heritage to his children, Reyes’ two sons Patrick and Pael are currently involved in the family business.