DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Saying it’s better to run his own business than be an employee all his life, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) here, skilled in the physical aspects of setting up a restaurant, has opened a kiosk specializing in grilled chicken offals, including the popular Pinoy street food, isaw – or chicken intestines – where he sells not less than 2,000 sticks a night.
“Katulad ng marami sa atin, sinawaan na rin akong mangamuhan,” 37-year-old Bryan Valencia Pantaleon, who holds a degree qualifying him to be an industrial electrician, told GMA News Online.
(Like many Filipinos working abroad, I also got tired working for other people.)
“'Pag namamasukan ka kasi, kahit anong sipag mo, hanggang doon lang din ang kikitain mo. Company ang yumayaman,” Pantaleon, a graduate of Bataan Peninsula State University (BPSU), added.
(You’ll never earn enough no matter how hard you work when you’re an employee. Only the company gets rich.)
Hailing from Bataan, Pantaleon arrived in Dubai in 2012 on an employment contract, and worked as a general maintenance technician, doing everything from installing electrical lines to air conditioning, carpentry and plumbing at brand name dining venues across Dubai.
Thereafter, he started freelancing while running a commissary kitchen.
“But as you get older, you’d realize you need to be practical and try other fields. This way, you will learn that comfort and peace are more important,” Pantaleon, who lives with his wife and a five-year-old son in Dubai, said in a mix of vernacular and English.
And so, the decision to open an eatery, which he named “Inihaw King” (Grill King) and is currently among popular food stalls at the ongoing Rigga Night Market in Deira, north of Dubai.
The kiosk offers everything from grilled chicken head to chicken feet and everything in between like neck, heart, liver and gizzard, among others – just like home. Isaw is the bestseller.
“Sa isaw pa lang po, 'di bumababa ang benta ng 2,000 sticks every day, puwera pa po 'yung ibang parts,” Pantaleon said.
(Chicken intestine sales don’t go less than 2,000 sticks a night – and that’s excluding other chicken parts.)
Pantaleon said they added other specialties – Gotong Batangas and Lomi Batangas.
“Nilakasan ko lang loob ko sa tulong na din ng mga kaibigan kong nasa food industry. Naging successful naman, laging sold out every day,” he said.
(I just mustered enough courage with the help of friends in the food industry. It became successful and we're sold out every day.)
Inihaw King employs seven people, divided into teams with different tasks.
“Almost 24 hours ang operation namin. Sa night market, open kami ng 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., pero ang staff pumapasok na sila ng 3 p.m. at nakakauwi ng 4 a.m. Paid overtime naman 'yun siyempre.
(It’s an almost 24-hour operation. We are open at the night market from 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., but the staff are already there by 3 p.m. and they go home at 4 a.m. Of course, they are paid for overtime work.)
“Ibang team pa ang sa preparation ng inihaw. Maghapon silang nagtutuhog at inaabot pa hanggang gabi, at ibang team pa din ang sa sauces. 'Yung sauce, wife ko na gumagawa noon with the help ng kasambahay namin,” said Pantaleon.
(There’s a different team for preparation, and they work all day, sometimes till early evening, putting the offals on sticks. There is another team for the sauces, which my wife handles with help from our house helper.)
The chicken offals are collected from suppliers across the UAE, Pantaleon said.
This is the second time Pantaleon has participated in the Rigga Night Market, which opened last month for its third year running.
“Naging successful naman kaagad. Napagsama ko ang specialty ko sa heavy kitchen equipment at ang galing ng wife ko sa pagluluto,” Pantaleon said.
(In no time, our stall was a success. I was able to fuse my specialty with heavy kitchen equipment and my wife’s cooking skills.)
“Salamat sa Diyos, at sa mga kaibigan ko, at sa wife ko, dahil sa support nila masasabi ko po ngayon okay na okay naman ang business,” Pantaleon said.
(I am thankful to God and all the people around me, including my wife. Because of their support, I can say that the business is doing very well.)
Pantaleon said they have been looking for place to set up their own restaurant.
“Wala akong makitang maayos na puwesto. May maayos man, hindi naman practical – mahal, business-wise,” he said.
(We could not find a spot that has a good location that fits our requirements. Those we found that had a good location were not practical — expensive, business-wise.)
He said he will keep his commissary kitchen running and do freelance interiors and maintenance work.
“Pahinga muna ang F&B (food and beverage) business during the summer,” he said, not discounting a return to the Rigga Night Market when it reopens next year.
(I’ll give our F&B business a rest during the summer next year.)
There are 21 food stalls and 40 clothing retail outlets at Rigga Night Market, which is visited by up to 4,000 people on a regular day, organizers said. It will run till May 31 next year. —KG, GMA Integrated News