Actress Bianca King is not only riding on trends, she has turned her interest in fitness and wellness into a lifestyle.
“Eating right and staying active mean giving importance to yourself. It’s empowering,” she said. This lifestyle choice has turned her into an avid runner and yoga enthusiast. It has also led her to the culinary scene, first as a blogger sharing healthy recipes online, and now as a restaurant owner.
Runner’s Kitchen, the year-old restaurant she co-owns with business partner Xander Angeles, is King’s first foray into the food service industry. It’s a competitive scene, but the new ’trep is handling it like a seasoned pro.
“There is definitely a lack of places in Metro Manila that you can trust for healthy fare. I felt that the only way I could find what I truly desire in the food scene is to make it myself,” she said. “But more than that, Runner’s Kitchen is an extension of who I am—I want to share that with others and feed people well.”
From the beginning, the business was a natural, perfect fit for King. “When I was in culinary school and had just enrolled in an online course to be a fitness nutrition coach, I told Xander (a good friend who’s also into running) about all the concepts I had been day dreaming of for quite some time,” she said.
King added her friend got so excited because he was already in the middle of building a restaurant. He wanted to do something about the lack of healthy food joints in Quezon City, and was looking for someone to do the food. “It was serendipity,” she said.
Growing the business
King admits it was not the best way to start a restaurant—without a chef or a menu—but said she was ready to take on the challenge. “I jumped in because I knew I could use my passion to fuel the will to learn,” she explained.
The first order of business: study the constantly growing and changing local restaurant scene. She said she did a lot of research—analyzing the food trends in the US that the Philippine culinary scene has not “gotten quite right here yet,” she said. She also observed what the other healthy or organic restaurants in Metro Manila are doing, and studied the direction of the food scene globally.
Armed with research and firsthand knowledge on the needs of the active-lifestyle market, King set the big idea and direction of the restaurant’s offerings. She designed the menu by creating sections where customers can find the food they need either for pre- or post-workout. “Fitness enthusiasts can easily pick something that matches their needs and preferences, while other diners don’t end up feeling intimidated,” she said.
Several months in, King and her partners are reaping the rewards of their concept—one that has allowed them to stand out in Quezon City’s restaurant scene.
“We have lines outside and are packed on weekends. People trust us because they see that we practice the lifestyle that Runner’s Kitchen stands for,” she said.
She said they may be a little restaurant along Tomas Morato, but it’s one that has personality and soul.
“This works for us because the Filipino palate is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Diners are willing to pay good money for an original concept,” she said.
Anna is the managing editor of Yummy magazine. Follow her on Twitter, @annafelipev.
This article was originally published in the October 2015 issue of Entrepreneur Philippines magazine.