“He can be really OC (obsessive compulsive) about the brand—after all, his name is on the brand so it's really on the line,” said Pamela Flores of Chef Gerard Dubois, the Swiss pastry chef behind French casual dining restaurant Passion by Gerard Dubois.
First opened in Hong Kong in 2012, Passion by Gerard Dubois has been making waves worldwide due to its award-winning pastries, with its croissants even voted best in the world. After opening five stores in Hong Kong, the boulangerie-pâtisserie-confiserie has since found its way into Macau and, now, the Philippines through its flagship store in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, which opened on April 6.
Learning the ropes
Flores is the local franchise holder of Passion by Gerard Dubois. And while she is a businesswoman in her own right, it is her first foray into the restaurant industry. “Gerard was looking for somebody he can trust with bringing this concept to the Philippines, and luckily I fit the bill,” quipped Flores in an interview with Entrepreneur.com.ph.
Flores, whose husband is one of the legal counsels of Dubois, has been an avid fan of the brand since it opened in 2012. “When I first saw it in Hong Kong, of course I also wanted to see it in the Philippines—during that time, many foreign brands have also been opening in the country. But never did I imagine that I would be the one bringing it here,” recalled Flores.
Dubois, detail-oriented as he is, insists that the franchise be faithful to the design and menu of the stores already in Hong Kong. Thus, Flores, whose background is in marketing, had to learn the ropes and trained overseas for over six months, and Chef Dubois proved to be a strict teacher, she recalled.
“As the franchisee, I really had to learn everything—I had to know how the items on the menu are prepared, how they should taste, and how they should look on the display,” said Flores. This proved to be a challenge as Passion by Gerard Dubois has around 195 items on its menu, including breads, croissants, salads, sandwiches, gelato, macarons, artisan pizzas, and even French casseroles, among others.
“If they’re not perfect, then we really can't serve them to the customers—that's how Gerard wants it,” Flores added.
As a franchisor, Chef Dubois remains particular with details, from how ingredients are sourced down to how ribbons are tied in their mocktail glasses and how signages are displayed in their stores. However, as an entrepreneur, Flores also insisted on a few changes that will work for the local market.
For one, she insisted that some ingredients be locally sourced. For example, the mangoes, the coconuts, and the pistachios used in their gelato are all locally sourced. “We have the best mangoes in the world—that was enough to convince Gerard,” quipped Flores.
And even with the brand's premium status, Flores insisted on competitive price points. “Filipinos are very particular with price. Even if we say we have the best, world-class products, if they are too expensive then Filipinos won't patronize us,” she said.
Macarons, for one, are priced at P52 ($1.04) each regardless of the flavor. Its world-famous French butter croissants are priced at P72 ($1.44) each, while its artisan breads are being sold for P38 ($0.76) per 100 grams. “I made sure that we're actually more affordable than most local French restaurant concepts,” said Flores.
And even if its flagship store just opened, Flores already has big plans for Passion by Gerard Dubois in the Philippines, eyeing Makati and Ortigas in Pasig City for its next store locations. “Finding the right location is really the key to its success,” she added.
Passion by Gerard Dubois
Shop C2 of the NetPark,
5th Ave., E-Square, Crescent Park West,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Toni is the deputy associate editor of Entrepreneur.com.ph. Follow her on Twitter, @toni_antiporda