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Right on cue: A new twist to Pinoy ihaw-ihaw

This restaurant has put a new spin on the ihaw-ihaw joint that Pinoys simply love. Its menu is wholly dedicated to meat and comfort food.
By Alex Grant |
Right on cue: A new twist to Pinoy ihaw-ihaw

Friends Eliza Antonino, Abba Napa, and Jon Syjuco make up the partnership behind the Moment Group, the force behind one of the restaurants that decorate Bonifacio High Street’s East Superblock: ‘Cue Modern Barbecue. Their food lies somewhere between the local ihaw-ihaws and western-style steakhouses but is wholly dedicated to meat and comfort food. Housing dishes with meats that range from chicken to pork to beef and even fish, ‘Cue is a meat lover’s paradise.

It started out with “the love and passion for food and the drive to do something in the industry,” says Syjuco, who is in charge of the group’s business development.

“All of us have been part of the food industry in the past in different capacities,” adds Napa, the group’s concept development head. “When we decided to come together, we wanted our restaurants to add choice for the diner and variety to the dining scene we have today. You have ihaw and the foreign chains but we wanted to offer the variety of what barbecue can be.”

Opening the restaurant

cue_modern_barbecue_3.pngTheir idea came about around the middle of 2011 and grew quickly. “When Jon found this great location [in Bonifacio High Street], our modern barbecue concept made sense in this neighborhood,” shares Napa. “It was in the third quarter when we really developed it.” Within a year, the group went from idea to actual business, opening their restaurant in May 2012.

The restaurant’s quick development can be credited to the great connection the owners have with each other. When it comes to decision-making, the Moment Group has its own way of doing things. “Equal in everything—equal in investment, equal in sale,” shares Syjuco.

“We’re very collaborative in our decisions,” adds Antonino. “We’re aligned in a lot of things.”

Secrets to success

cue_modern_barbecue_4.pngAnd their partnership has certainly helped ‘Cue achieve business success. But what is it about the food at ‘Cue that attracts diners? Meat aside, there’s a sense of familiarity in the dishes, even if a lot of it draws from international inspiration. One example is ‘Cue’s Chili Monggo, a dish drawing from the American comfort food but using beans Filipinos are more familiar with. And the group knew that the idea of barbecue itself would grab attention. Within months it grew into one of the hottest food spots in the Metro, lauded by bloggers and patronized by food lovers.

“Filipinos would enjoy that,” says Napa. “There’s a sentimentality because they know it already.”

Apart from the familiarity, the restaurant also has a name that speaks for itself, adding to easy customer recognition. “It’s short for barbecue,” Napa says, “but it’s straight to the point. It’s cute, it’s nice, and it’s catchy. It is what it is.”



Photos: Kai Huang

This article was originally published in the September 2012 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. Subscribe to the print or digital version here.   

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