How Gerry's Grill expanded overseas
Learn from the experience of this homegrown brand.
Dec 15, 2011 14:00 pm
Stories of Filipino achievement in foreign shores have become common, and the notion of finding fortune success overseas is pervasive. This is true even among Filipino brands and companies that have made it big in the homeland. Many have been expanding internationally over the past years, among them is restaurant chain Gerry’s Grill.
[related|post]In less than 10 years after its founding in 1997, Gerry’s Grill branched out to San Francisco, California in 2005, then later to Los Angeles in 2007, two cities with very large Filipino communities. Its most recent international foray was a bit closer, successfully setting up shop at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore in December 2010.
Gerry Apolinario, the eponymous founder of the brand that has become a household name for remarkable Filipino cuisine, explains that while overseas expansion was a business decision, he’s not solely interested in marketing the brand.
“It’s not just Gerry’s Grill,” Apolinario asserts. “We want to promote Filipino cuisine, which, in our opinion, is well- accepted in terms of flavor. It’s just that nobody has really gone out on a limb to promote it. That is our goal.”
Apolinario also frankly admits that he began expanding abroad because he was asked to: “In our experience here, especially when we had the big branch in Glorietta (Makati), we would get a lot of foreigners: British, American, Australian, and so on. We would find that they were very impressed by the flavors we gave them. The typical questions were, ‘Why aren’t you in Australia? Why aren’t you in the United States, selling this kind of cuisine?’”
“The typical impression you get out of Filipino cuisine is that it’s lutong bahay (home-cooked),” the seasoned restaurateur says. “It’s oily, and all that. Not the type we have [at Gerry’s Grill]. When foreigners get to try our cuisine, they are surprised that this is what Filipino cuisine is. ‘We didn’t know,’ they’d say, and ask, ‘Why don’t you try [selling abroad]?’ That gave us the inspiration to promote our cuisine abroad.”