Filipinos don’t usually associate pizza with South Korea, but Mr. Pizza wants to change all that, as it finally set up shop in the Philippines. So how exactly did a local food operator woo South Korea’s leading pizza chain?
“We proved to them how much we wanted to share the goodness of Mr. Pizza to the Filipinos, and assured them that we will make it stand out against other pizza players in the country,” says Chanky Tiangco of Dine Asia Inc., which brought in the pizza brand. “From the first time we tried it, we knew that Filipinos would love it, too,” adds the marketing manager of Mr. Pizza Philippines.
The Philippines makes for a great market for the brand as Filipinos love to eat and are adventurous eaters, which bodes well for Mr. Pizza, says Kim Tae Hyeung, deputy general manager of South Korean restaurant operator MPK Group, which owns Mr. Pizza.
From Seoul to Manila
Hyeung adds that MPK and Dine Asia Inc. plan to open 100 stores in the Philippines in the next five years. Mr. Pizza, which has more than 450 outlets in its home country, had its beginnings in Seoul 25 years ago. Since then, it has found its way to China, the United States, and now, the Philippines.
To make it stand out in the Philippines, it had to remain true to the overall look and feel of Mr. Pizza in its home country, which proved to be a challenge, says Tiangco. “The biggest challenge is the construction of the stores, because we had to copy the exact look of the Mr. Pizza stores in Korea. Some materials needed to come from Korea, and their shipping and release posed problems and delays,” she adds.
Unique restaurant experience
Part of the store’s interior is an open booth where Mr. Pizza’s dough-tossers and pizza-makers can put on a show for dine-in customers, to prove that the doughs and pizzas are made fresh upon order. “‘Fresh’ is the operative word here,” adds Tiangco.
The standout taste of Mr. Pizza’s offerings comes from its sweet and spicy combination—imagine having egg tart or sweet potato mousse as the filling of your pizza crust, topped with crunchy coconut shrimps, bulgogi, and creamy Camembert cheese. Even its non-pizza offerings, like baked seafood and kimchi risotto with cheese, are not your usual fare.
Currently, Mr. Pizza Philippines has locations in Greenbelt 3 in Makati City, Robinsons Place Manila, and SM Seaside Cebu. It is also set to open soon in SM North EDSA and Uptown, Bonifacio Global City.
Main photo by Heidi Aquende