Hap Chan—yes, that restaurant that spelled its name in several different ways—is getting its act together. Chinese cuisine has been part and parcel of Filipino cooking since the first Chinese immigrants arrived in the country. And while Chinese-style food can be cooked at home or bought anywhere, people still search for authenticity.
[related|post]A popular restaurant offering authentic Chinese cuisine is Hap Chan, founded in 1997 by chef Kwok Man Wah, himself a Chinese immigrant to the Philippines.
Known for employing Hong Kong chefs, Hap Chan tried to satisfy the growing demand for Chinese food by aggressively expanding through franchising. “The old management started franchising back in 1997 but was quite hesitant to go full-blown, and they lacked funding. So when we took over in 2009, we created, innovated a franchising system that is more acceptable,” says John Sy, franchisee-turned-president of Hap Chan Trading and Management.
Alongside the new system comes the development of three restaurant categories: tea house with 20 items and 98-peso rice meals; restaurant, a bigger version of the tea house serving complete meals; and seafood restaurant, which is even bigger than the restaurant, and offers fresh seafood as its main fare. According to Jane Jalandoni, Hap Chan’s franchising and business development head, the three types of Hap Chan eateries were created to make the cost of investment of franchisees more affordable. It was not entirely smooth sailing when the new management took over the brand. “Bringing down cost of investment is difficult,” he says.