GoodAh!!! leverages nostalgia, whimsy with new partner Abunda

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TAPSILOG, a portmanteau of tapa (cured beef), sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg), has become a Filipino breakfast staple and all-around comfort food. The name itself was something that came from the kitchens of GoodAh!!!, a local fast-food chain that has been in the industry for 33 years.

During the Sept. 16 reveal of its new endorser and business partner, some of those invited to the GoodAh!!! branch in Metrowalk, Pasig City, recalled that the restaurant was the one you went to after partying and drinking all night and as a final stop before one went home. The recollections led to animated discussions of what led them to go to GoodAh!!!

Eugenio “Boy” Romerica Abunda, Jr., the aforementioned new business partner and endorser, was himself a fan of GoodAh!!! and a frequent visitor during its heyday in the 1980s.

“I don’t want to be [just] an endorser… I want to invest in GoodAh!!!,” he told reporters during the launch.

Mr. Abunda now owns one-seventh of the company, though he declined to disclose how much he invested in the venture.

After the ‘80s, the chain went into a decline until a few years ago, when efforts to revive it came. Mr. Abunda said that with his entry, he wants to “bring back the old days.”

“It wasn’t run very well [before]. That’s why, when we came, we had to do an overhaul… the revamp took two-plus years,” said Timothy Yang, president of Soyamensa Foods, Inc., at the launch.

The revamp includes an ongoing face-lift of the six remaining GoodAh!!! branches, in-keeping with the brand’s playfulness — as seen in its slogans, “Open 25 Hours” and “Pagkaing (food) good for every-all.”

The Metrowalk branch, for instance, while bedecked in the red, white and yellow color scheme, has witty “statement” chairs. The back of one reads: “Para sa laging tulog (For those who are always asleep).”

“We’re flexible; we understand that it’s a new market, so [we have to be] flexible and cater to their wants,” said Mr. Yang.

The restaurant, which famously serves tapsilog, lugaw (rice porridge), and goto (congee with offal), among other Filipino favorites, has also introduced a new version of its bistek (Filipino beef steak), with the recipe coming from Mr. Abunda.

He said that while he can cook a few other things that might be on the menu, he’ll be focusing on Boy’s Bistek for a while.

Besides GoodAh!!!, another Soyamensa brand, the Japanese Yoshinoya chain famous for its gyudon or beef bowls, has caught Mr. Abunda’s eye.

“I want to talk to them about [Yoshinoya],” he said.

Richard Yang, chairman of Soyamensa Foods, Inc., said that the company is opening two more stores before the year ends, with one at the Petron station on Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay City. The company is also eyeing spaces at the Petron stations located on the North and South Luzon Expressways, though Mr. Yang clarified that those places won’t be the only GoodAhh!!! sites.

“[Those] are good site[s] but not the only ones,” he told BusinessWorld.

Soyamensa is also planning to re-open former GoodAh!!! locations but admitted that it’s hard to get the same locations again. It aims to open at least 10 branches next year. — Zsarlene B. Chua