When I was growing up, I would be found playing at any of these Filipino restaurants - Barrio Fiesta, Bakahan at Manukan, Singing Cooks and Waiters Atbp., and Isdaan - which my parents, Rod Ongpauco and Liberty Ilagan, happened to own. These concept restaurants eventually became my workplace.
At seven, I was billing out customers, and during summer I worked various jobs at any one of them. I learned the ropes of running a restaurant this way, and it was how I prepared to become a restaurateur like my parents, although my management style was not exactly like theirs.
Although I studied to become a chef at the Culinary Institute of America, I did not want to limit my business involvement to food preparation. I wanted to be hands on with the business, and make my own mark in the industry where my family had been playing prominently. My parents supported my decision to strike out on my own. To start the first World Topps branch on Timog Avenue, Quezon City in 2000, with no cash at hand, I took the leap of faith by maxing out my credit card to pay for my investment and thank God I got my ROI within a year.
Through out the years, I also opened Hawaiian BBQ, Pamana, Tsokolateria, I love Backyard BBQ Grill. At present, we have a total of 14 Branches all over the Philippines.
I also ventured into Bespoke Catering called Private Dining by Happy Concept Group where we have special themes, beautiful tablescapes & sumptuous menus, complete with Private Chefs and Butlers to make any occasion memorable. Aside from that, I am operating Happy Carts which are kiddie food carts that matches the theme of any party – perfect for children's birthday parties and corporate gatherings.
I also invested in The Boutique Bed & Breakfast, a seven (7) bedroom Boutique Hotel in Tagaytay City and Slim at Home, a Home Service slimming clinic. Last 2018, we launched Mom Made where we manufacture ready to cook frozen dishes that are free of preservatives especially made for busy moms like me who always look for healthy, yummy yet easy to cook dishes for our children.
I also opened my first branch of Le' Chon, another Filipino cuisine concept at The Grid in Power Plant Mall and will be launching our second branch in BGC a this year. Thru Le' Chon, I have shown a different twist to the usual lechon by incorporating French techniques and flavors to the beloved Filipino dish.
I'm also proud that I opened my grandest plan ever, The Dining Room which has a various selection of private HOUSES where you can celebrate your special bespoke occasion made for small elegant celebrations which is an off shoot of my catering business, Private Dining by Happy Concept Group.
Interested in opening one of Happy Concept Group's restaurant concepts?
Interested in opening one of Barrio Fiesta's restaurant concepts?
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