Chef’s assistant sets up promising eatery business
ofw’s memorial to slain brother
For 29-year-old overseas worker Robert Yap, setting up a food business in his hometown of Argao in southern Cebu was more than just a means to earn.
Carenderia ni Eton, a roadside eatery located in Barangay Langtad, was an ode to his late brother, a memorial of sorts, which seeks to immortalize a loved one that has passed on.
“When I finished the construction, I didn’t look at it strictly as a business. My perspective changed. I wanted to open the eatery so people will still say the name of my brother,” he told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.
He said the “carenderia” (or carinderia) banners the slogan “hapit, mangaon ta bai,” which translates to “come over, let’s eat” in English, a phrase often used by his brother.
The Florida-based Filipino chef named the eatery after his brother PO3 Jason “Eton” Yap, who was shot dead by a motorist whom he flagged down for allegedly overspeeding on the highway of Sibonga town in March last year.
Yap said his brother then had agreed to oversee the construction of the eatery, but he never expressed his desire to get involved in the operation of the business.
He, however, said that when the business would be successful, he was hoping his brother would retire from his job then as a policeman, which is a dangerous line of work in a country such as the Philippines.
“But then it happened. I was broken, I cried very hard. He was a very jolly person and had a very big smile all the time,” Yap recalled, adding that he and his brother were very excited to open the eatery then.
Following the death of his brother, Yap spent the next seven months tirelessly juggling work as a homecare service provider and as an assistant chef for a Chinese-American fine dining restaurant.
Yap was able to open the eatery by December 25, 2016, just in time for his deceased brother’s birthday.
“If I had to name the establishment, it was a no-brainer. I would have to name it after him,” said Yap.
It took him 10 years to realize his dream, something he only imagined while he was still in college.
As a nursing student studying in Cebu City, the Argao-born Yap would always fall short on money even before the week ended.
“I always went hungry. I told myself that when the time comes that I get a job, I’ll really build a carenderia so I can solve my problem of hunger,” he said.
Yap studied nursing at a school in Cebu City, but shifted to Commerce after two years due to financial constraints. He, however, later dropped out of school.
Then his father passed away in 2005. His mother remarried an American citizen soon after, earning Yap a ticket to greener pastures in the US.
There, he worked in a nursing home for five years before he moved on to his current job now, a fine dining assistant chef at a Chinese-American restaurant in Florida.
In 10 years, he was able to save P5 million, which he used as the capital for his business in Argao town.
“The reason I overinvested is because I wanted to own the property. That way, I could protect my business.
I don’t have to answer to anyone. That’s how I protect my business, by owning everything from property to equipment to the building to the cash flow,” Yap said.
Yap bought a 600-square-meter lot along the road, developed it, and built what is now known as Carenderia ni Eton.
Because he doesn’t have debt from establishing his eatery, Yap said he doesn’t mind not making any money at the moment.
In February this year, the eatery made P200,000 in sales.
Pinoy dishes, travellers
The eatery offers authentic homemade Filipino dishes such as pochero, adobo, beef steak, as well as chicken and pork barbecue, ingredients of which are all sourced from the local wet market and prepared fresh every day.
Yap said the vegetables used in the dishes are from Mantalongon in Dalaguete.
His business targets travellers from Cebu City to the southern tip of the province as well as some residents for lunch, while he would like to cater to mostly residents at night.
Yap currently employs eight people, helping him operate the business while he is in the US.
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