MANILA, Philippines – On February 15, a day after Valentine’s Day, the first Philippine branch of the United States-based restaurant chain IHOP will open its doors to the public.
Located at the W Global Center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, the country’s first IHOP restaurant offers the same items served in the US -- plus a few extras.
“There’s rice here, and the fresh fruit shakes, the tropical fruit shakes. They don’t do that anywhere else but here,” Archie Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of Global Restaurant Concepts Inc., told a small group of food writers during the media launch of IHOP on Wednesday.
Global Restaurant Concepts, the local partner of IHOP, has brought several international chains to the Philippines such as California Pizza Kitchen, PF Chang’s, Orchard Road and Morelli’s Gelato.
Two other international chains – Japanese barbecue restaurant Gyu-Kaku and Korean-Italian restaurant Mad for Garlic – are set to open in a few weeks.
According to Rodriguez, it took him five years to acquire the rights to put up IHOP branches in the country.
“IHOP is now in Mexico, Canada, mostly in North and South America. This is the first [branch] in Asia. The Philippines is the first for many things now,” he shared.
“It really took me a while to convince them that the Philippines is the gateway to the rest of Asia. We’re the easiest entry to Asia because we don’t have any language barrier. We have the closest affinity to Western culture. We’re very well traveled, there are a lot of Filipinos who live in the US, they really know the brand. So the brand is really popular in the Philippines.
“So after convincing them that the Philippines is the right country to go to, I had to convince them that my company is the right one to work with because there are other companies that are vying for the brand. It’s a difficult process and that’s why it took five years,” he added.
After the branch in Taguig, IHOP will have branches in Ortigas, the Greenhills area in San Juan, at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City, at the new Ayala development in Katipunan, Quezon City, and in Makati.
“Makati is probably the area I’m still behind in terms of finding the location,” he said, adding that he plans to put up 20 IHOP branches in the Philippines in five years.
“I actually have the rights for some countries in Southeast Asia. My intent is that after I build my 12th store in the Philippines, we have our foundation really rock solid, we can start looking at other countries.”
IHOP, formerly known as the International House of Pancakes, specializes in – you guessed it – pancakes.
Rodriguez said the average IHOP restaurant in the US serves more than 325,000 pancakes a year. “This means the IHOP system serves in excess of 500 million pancakes annually, lathered with 250 million scoops of butter and drizzled with two million gallons of syrup,” he said.
The Philippine branch of IHOP offers 10 varieties of pancakes – Original Buttermilk, Cinn-A-Stack (layered with cinnamon roll filling and topped with cream cheese icing), Double Blueberry, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, New York Cheesecake (loaded with cheesecake pieces and topped with strawberries), Strawberry Banana, Harvest Grain ‘N Nut (made with gains, wholesome oats, almonds and English walnuts), Cinnamon Apple, Strawberry and Whole Wheat with Blueberries.
The restaurant also has sweet and savory crepes, omelettes, oatmeal, sandwiches and burgers, among others.
For the health-conscious, IHOP also has a “Simple and Fit” menu which includes customized versions of the restaurant’s classic dishes.
“Everything is very light. We have options for people who want to dine out healthy,” Rodriguez said. “We have a fantastic Spinach and Mushroom omelette from the Simple and Fit menu. It’s absolutely delicious.”
View the slideshow to get a glimpse of the first IHOP branch in the Philippines and Asia.