Every restaurant has its own VIP customer, and Fran Syquia Villaroman’s favorite VIP at her family’s House of Minis just happened to be a former Philippine President.
Fran’s family has been running the casual dining joint in Greenhills for 48 years now, and yesterday, June 24, they lost a regular visitor when Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III passed away. “Still can’t believe PNoy is gone. I still remember how he loved House of Minis. How fortunate was I to serve him?” Fran, who manages the steakhouse, wrote on her Facebook status.
“I usually work only during the day at HOM so when my waiters would see me there in the evening, alam na nila sinong darating—and that’s because my Dad would always say to make sure I’m there and to check everything goes well,” Fran offered.
She described the former President as “very simple.” And his maiden visit immediately revealed this quality of PNoy to her. “The first time he dined with his friends I made sure his steak will be the first to be brought out.” The VIP, however, preferred that the people in his company get their orders first. “I was worried his steak will get cold,” recalled Fran. But that first encounter taught her to always serve PNoy’s steak last.
“When it was paying time, we weren’t supposed to charge him but his bodyguard said, ‘Ayaw ni PNoy ng ganyan, magbabayad daw po siya,’ so we just gave him a discount.”
What Fran thought would be just a lucky one-time visit was followed by another and another. “To the point that when I would work in the evening, my daughter Sophie would say, ‘Do you really have to always be there?’ And I would say, ‘Yes. He is my VIP Customer.’”
Fran says not even the pandemic was able to stop the former President from enjoying his House of Minis steak. “Last January, I spoke to his Aide and he said the President was craving for Porterhouse so nag-takeout na lang.”
Thursday’s news clearly saddened the House of Minis manager who would now have one special person less to look forward to when she’s at the steakhouse. “I will surely miss this VIP Customer of mine,” Fran wrote on her emoji-peppered tribute. “Thank you Mr. President. I will pray for you. May you Rest In Peace.”
[Photos courtesy of Fran Syquia Villaroman]