Story originally posted on old blog.
While on an adventure of trying 50 restaurants I have not visited some stories became more interesting after getting a chance to talk to their owners. This interview below is one of them. Just when Kanto Freestyle was earning its rightful place in everyone’s favorite restaurants, I was lucky to have chatted with its co-owner Vince.
Fox: You co-own Chef Arch’s Lime and Kanto. With whom do you share ownership? How long have these two been open?
Fox: I noticed that both have this theme of combined street style and gourmet. Where did this idea come from? Any particular reason you came up with this?
Vince: The Lime concept was the brainchild of Chef Arch. From Hong Kong’s Dai Pai Dongs to Singapore’s Hawker stalls, street food has always been an indelible and inseparable component of one’s culture. It is a source of nourishment for the great hoi polloi and the common working man on whose shoulders societies stand on. Lime considers Philippine street food a source of pride that should be promoted and be made accessible and palatable for all, even those who are well off. It is from this vision that Lime was born.
Fox: Did you get formal training on culinary arts? If yes, where at? If not, to whom do you entrust food preparation?
Vince: Although Chef Arch is currently based in New Zealand, he continues to ensure that his culinary standards are strictly followed by remotely but effectively overseeing his trained and dedicated team of cooks and assistants via web and occasional visits. As for Ian, Eugene and I…we still consider ourselves but humble students to the master.
Fox: BJ and Kiefer, your Kanto storekeepers, are such sweethearts. My friends and I like them a lot because they are polite and they take their job seriously. More importantly, BJ prepares good food. I assume you train them (and your team) a lot to deliver that Chef Lime image. How do you train them? How do you ensure that your people deliver excellent customer service every day?
Vince: Given that my partners and I are also fraternity brothers, we grew up together with a deeply engrained sense of brotherhood and family. We believe applying this same set of values in business without sacrificing order and discipline. In Lime and Kanto, we treat our staff as family first before employees. We believe that it is only here in this environment of mutual respect and trust, loyalty and good service could be naturally cultivated and therefore also more naturally radiated back to you, our customers.
Fox: One of the attractions of Chef Arch’s Lime and Kanto is the price. You get fine dining at affordable prices. And to keep loyal customers, you gotta keep up with that image and at the same time keep the business. How do you manage pricing to ensure you keep both?
Vince: We only get the best ingredients and ensure the Chef Arch standard is followed both in process and presentation. We found out that staying true to one’s quality promise while trying to eke out a modest earning honestly does pose quite a daunting challenge to us sometimes, if not most of the time. We do try to counter balance this with volume deliveries and catering…but hey the smiles you get back and the network you gain is priceless.
Fox: I have tried a lot of your dishes and was never ever disappointed. Please tell us more about your bestsellers.
Vince: Here they are:
Fox: What dishes take a lot of time in preparation?
Vince: Chicken breast stuffed with Kangkong and Kesong Puti, it’s half pan grilled and half oven baked. We don’t do pre-cooking, every dish is freshly cooked that’s why some dish take a while to prepare.
Fox I know that you recently had a fundraising project for the typhoon victims of Iligan. It is good to know that you also make it a point to give back. What made you do this? Do you do this often?
Vince: We have been blessed by God with great business and a strategic venue where we can gather people to help those in need. We felt that it is both natural and a responsibility to use these strengths to give back.
Fox: Do you host events like birthdays, parties and group dinners? What’s the price range?
Vince: Yes, we have party packages at P250, P300 and P450 per head.
Vince: More great food from Lime and more deliveries from Kanto.
Fox: I bet you have customers who come back all the time. More than the affordable price and good food, it was the whole experience that makes us come back. What do you want to tell all these loyal patrons (myself included)?
Vince: Customers can’t get enough of my good looks. Hahahahaha! Kidding aside, I think it’s the chill out ambiance of Lime that works as a plus for us. I think that people naturally gravitate more to a house compared to a commercial establishment. I guess at the end of a day’s hard work, a lot of people consider Lime as their second home.
All photos were authorized for posting by Vincent.
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