Negosyong Pinoy: The Karinderya Business

March 01, 2018

We Filipinos are slaves for food; wherever you are, when you know what's good to eat, you would go there, right? Now, cities are mostly populated by malls, fastfood chains, restaurants, and such. In these places, people have forgotten the classic karinderya which served homemade dishes special for you. If you haven't had the chance to experience it, let me give you a brief background as to what it is.
Image: GMA

karinderya or a small canteen is an establishment that serves the mass in terms of the food they eat. In a sense, these karinderyas are widely spread before and can be seen almost everywhere.

When you enter a karinderya, you will be greeted by the luscious aroma of the food they're preparing. Depending on how big the canteen is would be the number of dishes they will serve. You will feel nostalgic because you would be remembering what your lola has been cooking before; or your mother every Sunday lunch time with all of your family members gathered in one table.
Since the dawn of the retail business and fastfood, a lot of people had forgotten karinderyas for good. However, there are still people who patronize karinderyas for a number of reasons:
  • Homemade feel
  • Price
  • Choices to choose from
Wouldn't it be nice to own this kind of business? Wouldn't it make you feel better that you're serving fellow Filipinos with what they love doing the most?

Let's start from scratch, what are the things I would need to put up this kind of business?

To tell you frankly, you don't need hundreds of thousands to put up this business. If you live in a place where a lot of people pass through like highways, in a village where  you're near the go-to place of people, and such, this is actually the perfect scenario for you since you don't have to pay rent anymore and you don't need to think about renovation that much. Although you can of course make your place look appealing, it won't be that costly; plus, you're not required to ask for permission from anyone else.
But the things you would need are:
  • Business permits
  • A clear strategy on which days you will serve certain dishes
  • Materials
  • An assistant
  • A chef
  • Clean area

Business permits

Of course, any business has these and besides, you might be penalized if you don't have them. Getting them is easy, there are a lot of online guides and I can guarantee that it won't cost you a sweat.
Read: How to process business permits in the Philippines
If you're asking for costs, there are costs and to give you a rough estimation, it will be dependent on where your business is residing.

The menu

Nobody likes to eat the same thing twice, right? This is why your technique in planning the menu should be crisp and clean. If you're planning to have 5 meat/fish viands plus 2 vegetables, that would be sufficient enough to earn you a fortune in a day. However, that won't happen unless the people pulls themselves to your business. And how will that happen? If they like what you cook.
  • Study your market, make surveys
  • Let them taste your recipe for free and then spread the news to them
  • Ensure that your dishes are well-thought of
  • Cleanliness is a number one factor in this game so make sure to keep your dishes clean
  • In a week, prepare 10-12 dishes that would be shuffled daily; plan it out as well as to how your rotation works
  • Vegetables are a must and could be a game-changer for your business as it can be put in dishes as add-ons, extras, etc.
To give you an example, the common delicacies offered in karinderyas are:
  • Pork steak
  • Pecadillo
  • Sinigang na baboy
  • Chopseuy
  • Adobong manok/baboy
  • Lechon Kawali
  • Lumpiang Shanghai
These are just examples, of course. If you know other dishes that you think would suit your market, let them try it first and make a survey if they'll be willing to eat if they see that in your store.

The materials

You can't just keep the food inside your kitchen and not display it, right? This is where most of the expenses will come - in buying equipment. For a simple and basic karinderya, the things you would need are:
  • 2 burner stove top
  • Rice cooker
  • Refrigerator
  • Bain Marie/Food warming pans
  • Trays
  • Utensils
If you have all of these, then you're more than prepared and all you need is just the technique on what to cook and the food you will be serving. Some of these things can be quite a hurt in our pockets so how can we save in buying the required equipment?
  • Try to find them online. Most online stores and shops offer them for less than their original price
  • Attend auctions, you don't know that the auctions are actually gems. I had a friend who bought a cabinet, a chest type freezer, and a set of utensils for just Php1, 500.00
  • Tables and chairs are also cheap at auctions or you can buy them second-hand.
  • Food warming pans are a lot cheaper and can be used as a substitute for a Bain Marie.

Your assistant and your chef

Let's not disregard the fact that you won't be earning a sum of thousands yet in a day. This is why you should cut down your employees first. Try to manage and be the cashier or the first few months and when you project that it's coming to a successful leap, that's the time you hire more and expand.

Your assistant

If you have a relative, a close friend, or someone who wants to do the business with you, you can ask them to be your assistant first. You can't hire an assistant from ads or get them from jobstreet; this might cause your business to fail. It would be best if you can have an assistant close to you so that person is someone you can trust fully.

Your chef

If you can cook well, then you need to be the chef to cut down the cost of your employees. Again, when you're starting, the chef cannot be someone you don't fully know because it can break or disperse the business. Remember, your dealing with a karinderya or a canteen; good food is what your clients are looking for so you better think about cooking.
You can deal with cooking yourself, you just have to exert extra effort for this because if you plan on working/serving two (2) shifts, you need to wake up extra early and to sleep late at night.

Clean area

In addition to everything else, the cleanliness and orderliness of your space is also one kicker. Try to put yourself in your clients' shoes; would you eat if you see a dirty area? Would you be willing to dig in or even enter a place that has a foul smell?

Invest in the cleanliness and neatness of your karinderya as it can attract customers as well. How can I ensure that my space is clean and that people will be attracted to go inside my business?
  • Never let a finished dish sit on a table for more than 3 minutes
  • Be mindful of the area, sweep the floor, mop it, and clean it whenever a customer is not inside
  • Use electric fans and mosquito coils to keep those critters away
  • Never take for granted the spots that drop into the tables; clean them right away
  • Make it a habit to store ingredients properly, it would go a long way
  • Knives, cutting boards, woks, and pans can always be forgotten. Make sure to wash them constantly because you never know what type of bacteria got into that
  • Never reuse oil more than twice as it can change a certain dish's taste. Moreover, recycling oil can be bad for everyone's health. After usage, dispose them properly.
The success of your canteen depends on the management itself, not really the food. If you are in a location where people is abundant, then you don't have to worry about your food tasting magical, you just need proper management. Another reason why I mentioned that assistants and chef should be trustworthy and has a business mindset when you're starting is because of management.

What are the things that I should be aware of in managing and controlling?

Of course, there are variables you can't control like the taste of your clients, how much people will come in to eat, and if people would recommend your business or not. However, there are certain factors that you can control that can strongly complement your business's success:

  • Make sure to keep at least 50-60% of the sales everyday and use them for the next day's ingredients.
  • If you have an empty lot or if you're comfortable in using your house as the location, do so. Rent is the number one killer of profit especially in high-people volume areas.
  • Have a target everyday and it should be feasible. Try and compute for the total capital you've put up and your target everyday should be at least 30% of your expenses.
  • Test your food. As mentioned earlier, before your grand opening, test it out with your market first; ask them for their opinion, make surveys, and consider all of those.
  •  Keep in mind that there will be people to try to have credits, lay the law and do not allow these things. These simple things can ruin the business
  • When you expand, your employees might think and be confident that they can use ingredients for their own food. You might think that's okay but it's not; be strict when it comes to commodities.
  • Track your expenses and your inventory. Even when you're just planning to start your business, practice money management and inventory tracking. This is a habit you should practice to avoid failing.
If you love food and you're looking to have extra income, then what are you waiting for? Gather up everything and start with those permits. Who knows? Maybe one day, you'll have a chance to own 15 of these chains nationwide.

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