IT TOOK a while for a franchiser’s ambition to bring Rico’s Lechon, the popular lechon (roast pig) brand of Cebu to Manila.
“(For) more than five years, I’ve been talking to the owner, Rico Dionson, [about] wanting to franchise it,” Meat Concepts Corp. CEO George Pua told BusinessWorld at the restaurant’s launch on Oct. 24.
As an avid fan of lechon, Mr. Pua was adamant about pursuing a franchise in Manila. Instead the owner offered a sell his 23-year-old brand.
“Last December , the owner offered if our company wanted to purchase the whole thing,” Mr. Pua said. “I told him, ‘I think you know the answer.’”
In May 2018, Meat Concepts Corp. announced its acquisition of the Rico’s Lechon.
Last month, the largest branch of Rico’s Lechon in the country opened in Tiendesitas in Pasig City. It fills a 733 square meter space and has a seating capacity of 300. Featuring its signature tropical safari interior, the restaurant includes a take-out area, and seven VIP rooms which are named after districts in Cebu.
Mr. Pua said that the space was offered to their company and that he is glad about its location since Tiendesitas is “at the center of everything,” adding that Pasig is accessible to other cities.
The Tiendesitas branch offers new dishes that are available exclusively at the store. These dishes include lechon kare-kare (a peanut sauce-based stew), beef tripe kare-kare, tokwa at lechon baboy (tofu with roast pork), and lechon lumpiang shanghai (spring rolls), as well as desserts: buchi (mung bean paste-filled, deep-fried sesame-covered sweet rice balls) with caramel sauce and maja kalabasa (a coconut milk based dessert, made with pumpkin in this version).
“From this store onwards, we will be launching new dishes that would be special for the store only,” Mr. Pua said, adding that the new dishes will be made available in the other branches around Manila depending on customer reception after a month.
He said that a branch of Rico’s Lechon is set to open within the month in UP Town Center in Quezon City, and its biggest provincial branch will open in Mandaue, Cebu in 2019.
Rico’s Lechon in Tiendesistas is located at the 1st Level, Food Village Bldg. B, Ortigas East, Barangay Ugong in Pasig City. It is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. — Michelle Anne P. Soliman