For Aries Christopher Alvarez, a visit by a close friend who was going to Boracay Beach just after the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan in 2002 proved to be a life-changing experience.
The friend, Luisito Tijing, had simply dropped by one day while Alvarez was tending his small chicken-barbecue eatery in Kalibo, site of the annual Ati-Atihan festival. Tijing, the owner of a construction business, suggested to him to give himself a break from his daily routine.
It was lunchtime so Alvarez asked Tijing to first join him for lunch. What Alvarez served was his eatery's version of inasal, a roasted-chicken dish that's native to the Western Visayas region. Tijing liked the taste and flavor of the barbecued viand so much that he asked Alvarez if he would be willing to give him a franchise for his inasal business. Tijing told him that he was very much interested in opening a similar food outlet in his hometown of Bayawan City in Negros Oriental province, and he wanted Alvarez's chicken recipe for it.
Not being familiar with franchising, Alvarez asked Tijing for time to study his proposal. Although the Alvarez family had operated a popular diner in their hometown of Dumaguete City for over two decades, Aries Alvarez himself had taken a different career path, working instead as a medical sales representative for a big pharmaceutical company for 10 years.
Eventually, in 2003, Alvarez struck a franchise deal with Tijing on a presyong kaibigan (friend's price) basis. This marked the beginning of Chicken Ati-Atihan, which was to become the fastest growing low-cost food franchise business in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Chicken Ati-Atihan now has 50 branches throughout the country and is looking to expand its presence into Metro Manila. For a total franchise cost of P1.3 million, the company offers what Alvarez describes as "a high-viability business" with affordable products that appeal to all classes of society.
Because the business is based in Dumaguete City, some prospective franchisees in Metro Manila have shied away from getting a Chicken Ati-Atihan franchise. Alvarez explains that although not based in Metro Manila, his company is perfectly capable of providing full logistical and marketing support to all franchisees most anywhere in the Philippines.
He says he makes it a point to be present at every stage of the franchised outlet's development, and would even pick out a site for the outlet if the franchisee asks him to do so.
Alvarez takes pride in having made a success of Chicken Ati-Atihan in spite of not taking it to Manila, as his friends used to urge him to do. "It's just that my thinking was different," he explains. "I wanted to start a business in the province and succeed there. Besides, I found it a challenge because I wasn't really into the food business in the beginning."
With his company now a certified success--it has even spawned another food business, called Highway 10--the 36-year-old Alvarez isn't thinking of going on vacation anytime soon. But he does want more people to try his barbecued chicken--the taste of which, as Chicken Ati-Atihan's marketing slogan suggests, will make you dance in delight.
CHICKEN ATI-ATIHAN VENTURES INC.
2nd Floor Highway 10, Calindagan, Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental
Mobile: (0919) 509-7770; (0922) 491-7007
Fax: (035) 226-2083
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org