Meet the woman who founded Cabalen restaurant

by Armando Bartolome

Posted at Jul 18 2014 03:31 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2014 05:14 PM

Maritel Nievera, founder of Cabalen

MANILA, Philippines - I love hearing the saying, "if there's a will, there's a way." Oftentimes this saying becomes the battle cry of successful people.

They always believe in having a strong will to carry on despite facing difficulties along their journey.

This is how this lady made her path towards being a well-known food connoisseur.

At the age of 18, she spent her time creating fantastic menus. Her world was surrounded with great food and Kapampangan cuisine.

This lady is no other than Maritel Nievera, who began a restaurant called Cabalen.

The Business Mentor had the opportunity of talking and asking her insights especially on the restaurant business.

Business Mentor: How did you manage to develop such passion for creating menus?

Maritel Nievera: Well I grew up in an Pampanga where almost everybody loved to cook. The Kapampangan cuisine made me more curious to venture in concocting varieties.

BM: So how did Cabalen come into existence?

MN: Though I was armed with my food menus, I started Cabalen as a small “pasalubong” store in San Fernando, Pampanga. I wanted to test if some of my products would be acceptable by people. It was more of gaining my confidence. True enough months later I received many encouraging words from people I never met. In fact there customers who drove all the way from Manila to buy my products either to be sent to their loved ones overseas or personal consumption.

BM: Did those words from customers boost your confidence to explore having a branch in Manila?

MN: I was so excited as in head over heels! In 1986, I established Cabalen in West Avenue in Quezon City. It was a restaurant was serving dishes derived my recipes as well as other towns from Pampanga.

BM: Did you go to any culinary school to hone your skills?

MN: I did not have a formal culinary education, but I was blessed with a discerning palate. My good taste in food allowed me to effectively develop dishes that will be loved by our customers. In fact I personally manage our Product Research and Development Team.

BM: How much time do you devote in managing the business?

MN: I am hands-on when it comes to managing the business. I
devote a huge part of my time to the business. You may say it is because of passion and love that I find great satisfaction. When I am leisurely travelling in parts of the country or abroad, my mind and eyes are on food and concepts. This is how I began my Thai Restaurant concept “Oody’s”.

BM: The food industry is a big market. How do you keep “Cabalen” a by-word and with many followers?

MN: The key to Cabalen’s success has been maintaining high quality standards in our food, service, cleanliness and people. Sustained quality in these areas has been the main reason why our customers keep coming back to Cabalen. In fact most overseas Filipinos make it a point to eat at Cabalen within days of their arrival. Others would bring their foreign visitors as part of making their visit to the country complete.

BM: Cabalen ventured into establishing a branch in the United States.

MN: Yes, it is true. In 2013, due to the clamor of the Filipino community, I decided to open a branch in San Bruno, California. It was a success especially having the "Eat All You Can" similar to Manila.

BM: What are your plans now for Cabalen? Where you take the brand in the next few years?

MN: I am not poised to aggressively open branches in the different parts of the country. In fact major malls in Davao, General Santos, and Lipa, Batangas are offering sites to me. I am looking at sharing with qualified franchisees my success in operating Cabalen.

Internationally I am also looking aside from the US, parts of Europe and Asian countries. I am passionate in making my brand a major contributor towards making our country known. Whoever invests on Cabalen must be as passionate like me, too, aside from loving my food.

BM: where do interested parties get in touch with you?

MN: I may be reached through our website and email address is

For questions and more information, you may contact Armando "Butz" Bartolome by email: His website is