Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kuya Chito’s Takuyaki: The Balls that Roared

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Kuya Chito's Takuyaki

When Edgino “Chito” Bogayong asked his estranged wife Junith to join him in managing his fledgling food cart business in 2001, he didn’t realize it was the start of better things for them and their relationship.

Kuya Chito (as we his brothers & sisters at the PREX Church Ministry call him) was selling Takuyaki (a Japanese delicacy formed in a ball with vegetable fillings drizzled with chicken or fish flakes and topped with mayo) in food carts at leading shopping centers in General Santos City and South Cotabato.

From a mere initial capitalization of P40,000 borrowed from friends in 1996, he has expanded his business from one to three outlets by 2001.

Although sales was quite good, he felt something was amiss.

“Sales of my takuyaki balls have somehow plateaued,” he recalls. “I knew that my balls could perform better than this. Repeat orders were not that frequent as before. Finally, I tried asking around.”

He got a common reply. Most of those who have tried it liked it knowing it was healthy for them but were not so taken by the taste.

“Somehow I had to adjust the flavor to suit the Pinoy taste,” he explains.

This was when he remembered that his wife who was then running her own Video Rental business in the nearby municipality of Polomolok is a good cook who used to prepare savory dishes for them when they were still together. Maybe she could help him out in this aspect.

Luckily, Junith at that time was also thinking of giving up her shop in view of the entry of big newcomers from Manila. When Chito appeared at her doorstep with a peace offering and the request to help him out, she agreed albeit cautiously.

She laughs at the memory. “My husband has tried venturing into a couple of business, all of which failed in the end. But by some means, I couldn’t refuse him on this one even though we were on trial separation. I felt just then that the takuyaki holds a lot of promise. I just had to look for the correct blend of flavors, which was my forte being trained to cook since my childhood by my Waray parents.”

Finally, after a series of experiments in the kitchen of Chito’s rented room along downtown Papaya Street, and numerous taste tests conducted among the lodgers in the same compound, she finally came up with the right mix.

This eventually turned the tables for Kuya Chito’s Takuyaki.

Word got around that the new Takuyaki was tastier, sweeter and tangier somehow getting the approval of more people.

Kuya Chito's Takuyaki Balls

This enabled Chito to open up another branch at the Gaisano Mall OF GenSan and then another one in Koronadal. The balls were really hitting their mark.

Ultimately, franchise inquiries from interested parties started pouring in.

In 2003, their first franchise outlet in Cagayan de Oro opened at the Lim Ket Kai Center.

At around this time, Chito and Junith have moved back in again, together with their two daughters.

The couple’s foray into franchising was another lucky stroke.

“In 2004, months after we opened our first franchise in CDO, we still held off adding more. We first evaluated our situation and although the franchise was doing great as expected, we stopped and asked this question- could we do it ourselves?” recalls Junith.

Sensing that expansion was really inevitable but with their hands full, they turned to an expert, the Rudolph Kotik Franchise Consultancy.

This is when the balls really started rolling non-stop.

From only 3 outlets in 2001, the couple now has 36 outlets scattered all over the country, including 13 in Metro Manila and 5 in Cebu, all franchises.

Chito says, “My goal is that within 2 ½ years, I should have opened 80 outlets in Luzon. That’s an average of 3 outlets a month.”

Not a far-fetched idea considering that he is about to open 20 more outlets in the Metro Manila alone not including the rest of Luzon (Baguio, etc.) till end of this year in addition to the ones recently opened at Robinson’s Galleria, Market! Market! and SM North, among others.

Currently, Junith takes charge of Production overseeing things at their commissaries in Gen. Santos and in Metro Manila. A few years back, she opened “Kakanin Atbp.” putting into good use her fondness for cooking native delicacies which used to help tide them over during the early days of their marriage.

Chito for his part handles the Marketing, Planning and Research and Development.

Their two teenage daughters have also joined the fray, helping their parents during their free time. Eldest daughter Ehlaiza, 20 who just graduated in Marketing at the Notre Dame of Dadiangas University enjoys her supervisory role to the hilt, checking their outlets within the Socsargen Area.

Younger daughter Eugeremi prefers to help out in the operation of their stall at the KCC Mall of Gensan while entertaining customers waiting for their orders.

Chito & Junith with daughters Ehlaiza (left) and Eugeremi (right)

“The fact that this business have helped reconcile their mother and I and have greatly improved our lives together is not lost on our children. That is the very reason why they value it so much and have learned to operate it themselves when my wife and I have to go on a trip,” Chito proudly says.

Indeed, Chito owes much of the success of his business to the support his family have given him.

“Apart from them, I couldn’t have done it. They have inspired me to do all these things but not without their approval.”

As Chito further explains, he holds regular meetings with his family, briefing them on business updates, seeking their comment on various issues and constantly brain-stormed on better ways to serve their customers..

At the recent Tuna Festival, he rolled out his Takuyaki-On-Wheels and parked it at the middle of the Gensan Oval Plaza, the center of the festival’s celebrations. It was such a sensation that even at two o’clock in the morning, his 4-man staff was still serving his delicious balls to lines of tired revelers…. a sight which keeps on repeating itself in his various outlets in the whole country.

Chito explains this phenomenon with a chuckle. “What happened to my takuyaki was simply what happened to Jollibee. When it was just starting, it came up with a burger that was truly Pinoy. The burger per se is an American invention. What Jollibee did was to adapt it to suit our liking.”

“In our case, we just “filipinized” the takuyaki,” he adds.

In October of 2007, things came into full circle for Chito and Junith when they won as “Innovator of the Year” and the top plum of “Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Yaman Gensan Awards 2007, besting all over SMEs, given by the Gen. Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. and the local government of Gen. Santos City. Along with the trophies were cash prizes worth P160,000.

Even at this point in their lives, Chito and Junith feel that they have not exhausted all the possibilities in improving their business even farther.

“We are looking into more economical ways of manufacturing the takuyaki without scrimping on its ingredients. We were immediately patronized early on not only because we offered a healthy, delicious snack alternative but because we were very much affordable. We want to hold on to that strength,” Chito says.

Right now, the couple spends most of their time shuttling back and forth between Manila and Gen. Santos. Would that mean relocating to the big city soon?

The couple replies, “Gensan will always be our home. This is where we had our initial taste of success before replicating it in other cities. These are the people who challenge us to improve even further.”

In fact, adds Chito, “I have always explained this thing to whoever cares to know about the history of our balls: ‘Kuya Chito’s Takuyaki is proudly Gensan’s gift to the rest of the country and hopefully, the world.’ ”

BARILES NOTE: I tried other Taku’s I could find here and outside the country, even testing the ones I saw at Midvalley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last month but nothing really beats Kuya Chito’s balls. As of this writing, franchising inquiries have come as far as Australia, Hongkong, and the US of A.

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About Avel Manansala

Avel Manansala aka Bariles, is a native of a bustling city down south of Mindanao Island. He is a consultant on Blogging, Social Media, and Marketing . He is co-founder and head of the SoCCSkSarGen Bloggers and manager of Google Business Group (GBG)- General Santos. You may add him to your circles on G+ - http://plus.google.com/+AvelManansala. If you need more info on any of these fields, please leave him a message.

View all posts by Avel Manansala →

34 thoughts on “Kuya Chito’s Takuyaki: The Balls that Roared

  1. Chicken Noodle Soup

    The food you refer to here, the one that is shaped like a ball, is something that is cooked in Brazil as well, its very similar to what you described! It making me hungry for one hehe :)

    Reply
  2. bariles Post author

    hi richard! there’s a davao version pero di ko gusto. don’t worry, all the takuyaki you can eat once you set foot here. thanks!

    Reply
  3. bariles Post author

    Hi Alan! Good thing you like Kuya Chito’s version which really suits the Pinoy taste buds. It’s an idea which came at just the right time when people were on the lookout for healthy but affordable snacks.

    Hi Chicken Noodle Soup! That’s interesting! Will check on it. Thanks for visiting every now and then.

    Reply
  4. bariles Post author

    Hello Janette! Nice of you to drop by and visit this small blog. Kuya Chito’s has nooks all over Metro Manila. Try Market Market, Robinson’s Galleria, and most of the SM outlets there.

    It’s guaranteed to make you come back for more…. Promise! :)

    Reply
  5. bariles Post author

    Kengkay, as I told Janette, try all the SM Malls, Glorietta and Market2x! I guarantee you that you’ll be coming back for more. I’ll bet my own balls!!! Hehehe! (joke) :)

    Reply
  6. gensanite

    hello “TUNA MAN”…

    how much would it cost for the franchising of this business?

    please holla back…

    my partners and i are looking for another income stream… :)

    Reply
  7. orman

    as i’ve been telling kuya chito, i am his number one fan thanks to his balls, i mean, takuyaki balls! i will devour a styropor-full of T-BALLS anytime. i was surprise to discover that they have conquered DUMAGUETE CITY too. wowowee! now you should try their KAKANIN specifically their cassava cake…sinfully delicious! grabeeeh!

    ormans last blog post..Way Over Yonder by Carole King

    Reply
  8. Ana

    i left gensan for almost three months now and i miss “Kuya Chito’s Takuyaki” with the sweet and sour sauce, hmmm…. i can still remember taste. how i wish you could put up a branch here in belfast, northern ireland.

    Reply
  9. aira aldana

    hi…

    how much would it cost for the franchising of this business?

    coz were looking 4 a new business…

    tnx and i’m loooking 4ward 4 ur response….

    =)

    Reply
  10. Austin knapp

    I have not tried takuyaki but it sounds good from what i saw on the show bakugan. :) :} :] ;) ;} ;] ‘) ‘} ‘]

    Reply
  11. bariles Post author

    @Aira, hi! You may call chito at 0917-7016565. Thanks.

    @Austin, hello! It’s really good… and it’s healthy food too. Thanks for dropping by. :)

    Reply
  12. sea_urchin

    its nice to know chito bugayong made it ……. but dude, dont forget tpo settle your overdue obligations especially those many years back.

    Reply
  13. glenda

    i so love takuyaki and was brokenhearted there is no more chance for me get a franchise here cagayan de oro after rk’s staff told me they wont accept anymore cdo area…i hope i can formulate my own version of your takuyaki instead…guess this is out of desperation!

    thanks and more power!

    Reply
  14. nicole

    hi, yeah kuya chito takuyaki is indeed sumptous but now it’s “nakakasawa na” kindly tell them that here in market!market is so dirty i mean the cooking plates so messy talaga. The taste is blunt so kadire na to eat. Hope you can tell chito my comment.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  15. orman

    nanalo uli ang Kuya Chito’s Takuyaki sa Yaman Awards 2009! highest level na talaga ito ba! they’re opening din sa robinson’s soon! abangan natin ang suportahan ang yamang sariling-atin! (kuya chito: libre, libre, libre!)
    .-= orman´s last blog ..Plaza Heneral Santos Binuksan Na =-.

    Reply
  16. mae kathleen torres

    hi po,im intrested in franchising.ang franchisee po ba magpay for freight?how much is the estimated freight cost?is it monthly delivery?im from mindanao.
    tnx po..

    Reply
  17. riegelyn

    hello po..gusto ko pong mg franchise ng kuya chito takuyaki….from gensan po ako and nong s gaisano mall p ako ng work paborito ko po talaga 2,and now s kalibo n po ako…pwede nyo po ba ako makontak s email add ko.tnx

    Reply
  18. takuyakisuperdelicious

    Hello I’m from Quezon City,
    Noong nasa food court ako ng SM NORTH EDSA NAgtry akong bumili ng KUYA CHITO’S TAKUYAKI, And then grabe na sarapan ako..tapos healthy pa kasi veggie balls un.. at lagi ko yon hinahanap, minsan punta ko ng SM para lang bumili ng TAKUYAKI.. ngtry ako ng TAKOYAKI OCTOPUS BALLS kaso mas gusto ko pa din yung TAKUYAKI,..KASO nga lang wala n sa SM NORTH ngaun, sa SM MEGA MALL n lang ang alam ko, malayo na.. Sana maparami pa nila outlet nila dito sa manila.. marami naman ang bumibili nun..

    Reply
  19. florence

    helo poh..
    im really a fan of kuya chitos takuyaki..
    how much now is the franchise?thank u…

    Reply

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