Nicandro : Restaurant Founded on a Father’s Love for His Son
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Nicasio Nicandro Tabones runs a successful food business together with his wife, selling snacks and other food products to students of Marist School, a Catholic school for boys in Marikina. He also earns bucks from his waste disposal company that counts some of the biggest companies in the city as its customers.
Several years ago, his eldest son, a medical technologist, got tired of working in a hospital and consulted his father about venturing into the food business. Nick advised him to put up a the milk tea shop on Lilac St., the flourishing food haven in Marikina popular not only among the locals but also among food lovers in Metro Manila.
In 2012, Teaza Café was born. The milk tea station serves a variety of refreshing tea-based drinks such as honey lemon with popping bobba, green apple with popping bobba, honey grape with crystals, winterdew milk tea, calamansi fruit tea and a lot more thirst-quenching drinks that suit a tropical country like the Philippines.
Teaza was a blockbuster and today it has 28 branches not only in Metro Manila but also outside of the metropolis. It was so successful that only after a year, Nick’s son decided to leave his job at the hospital for good and focus on his food venture. Inspired by its success, two more other food businesses followed including a noodle food resto.
Two years ago, Nicandro, a restaurant specializing in home- and newly-cooked Filipino food also on Lilac St., was likewise opened. The restaurant got its name from Nick’s middle name.
Just like his other ventures, Nicandro is a hit among food lovers and households despite the emergence of a number of restaurants in the city.
The Picky Marikino Taste
“Lasa ng pagkain. Pag nakuha mo ang panlasa ng Marikenyo siguradong ayos ka. Hindi mo kayang lokohin ang panlasa ng mga Marikenyo pagdating sa pagkain. May pagkapihikan sila. Pag nakapasa ka sa panlasa ng Marikineyo, pasado ka kahit saan,” says Nick, who started his food business in a small stall, called NokNok Snack Bar, in front of Marist selling sago’t gulaman in 2004. The snack bar expanded its offerings and became famous for its rice patty with dinuguan sauce.
(The taste of the food. If you capture the taste of the Marikino, then you are doing well. You cannot fool the Marikinos when it comes to food. They are quite picky. If you pass their standard when it comes to food, then you can be successfully anywhere else.)
Nick says Marikinos are not cheapskates when it comes to food.
“Sa Marikina, name the price, bibilhin nila iyan basta malasa,” he says. (In Marikina, you can name the price and the customers will pay for it as long as it is delicious.)
To make sure that the food Nicandro will serve is up to the tastes of the Marikinos, Nick says before hiring its chef, he asked him to cook his own as well Nick’s favorite dishes. From there, he made suggestions as to how to improve the dishes. Only when he was satisfied with his cooking that Nicandro opened its doors to the public.
The restaurant offers Filipino favorites such as sinigang sa bayabas, a favorite among balikbayans (another market for Nicandro), kare-kare, sinigang sa bagnet, grilled liempo, pork sisig, authentic Vigan bagnet and a lot more. Prices are reasonable and won’t cause a big hole on the wallet. It also has rice meals that start at P145.
Nicandro gets its supply of bagnet straight from a businessman friend of his son, who lives in Vigan known for the crispy deep-fried pork belly delicacy.
Before the interview, we sampled the pork barbecue, sisig and grilled liempo. They were among the tastiest we have ever tasted. The servings were generous and were good for sharing by up to three persons. For three dishes and four cups of rice, we paid around P800. Not bad, right?
Aside from diners at the restaurant, Nicandro also makes more business with delivering food to residents of Concepcion Dos, where it is located, and nearby areas.
Nowadays, with moms also working to help augment the family income, and the heavy traffic in Metro Manila, most parents get home tired and late and they just opt to have their food delivered at home rather than preparing and cooking for it. And not just any food will do, but home-cooked meals such as the ones from Nicandro.
“On weekdays, we get a lot of deliveries. But on weekends, when families go out together to eat, our restaurant is usually full,” says Nick. This is particularly true on Sundays, when families dine together after going to the church, he adds.
Aside from the tasty meals, Nicandro also benefits from its location. Concepcion Dos is a middle-class neighborhood, so most residents have the money to eat out. Also, Lilac’s reputation as a food haven helps Nicandro gain more business.
Nick is also a stickler for cleanliness and orderliness. He sometimes shows up at the restaurant unannounced and inspects the whole place, especially the kitchen, to make sure that everything is spotless and in their proper places. He tastes the food to ensure that the quality is at par with what Nicandro is known for.
“Kung tawagin ako ng mga tauhan ng anak ko terror. Terror daw ako. Dahil on the spot I visit the restaurant. The kitchen. Kukuha ako ng kutsara, titikman ko ang luto nila. Nagagalit talaga ako pag may mali. Lalo na sa kitchen. EIstrikto ako sa kitchen dahil pag kumakain ako sa labas, ganoon din ako,” he says.
(The staff here calls me terror. Because I visit the restaurant announced. I check the restaurant, the kitchen. I would get a spoon and taste the food. I get mad if something is wrong especially in the kitchen. I am strict when it comes to the cleanliness of the kitchen because I am also like that when I eat out.)
Aside from his eldest son, his three other children, even if they have steady careers of their own (except for the youngest), have also ventured into the food business. Indeed, a family that goes into food business together, stays and becomes successful together.
10 Lilac St, Concepcion Dos, Marikina City
0918 959 2081
11:00 am to 10:00 pm
For more about the restaurant, check out its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NicandroLutongBahay/
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