Masaya at malaki ang pasasalamat ni Marvin Agustin dahil maganda ang takbo ng negosyo nila ng kanyang mga kaibigan at business partners na sina Raymund Magdaluyo at Ricky Laudico.
Noon lamang Abril 12, ginanap ang grand launching ng ika-25 branch ng Sumo Sam sa Olympia Building, sa Makati City.
Pero kahit magli-limang taon na ang restaurant na ito, hindi pa rin alam ng ilan kung saan nga ba nanggaling ang pangalang “Sumo Sam.”
“Uhm, at first ‘yong talagang concept ni Sumo Sam, Japanese-American [restaurant],” pagsisimula ni Marvin nang tanungin ng PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) at ibang media outfit ang istorya sa likod ng pangalan ng kanilang restaurant.
“Actually, the Japanese restaurant is accidental, e. Kasi we presented sa Shangri-La, dalawa ‘yong pinresent [present] namin na concept, and luckily nga it was the Japanese restaurant that was approved.
“Sumo Sam, for about a week we try to come up with a name for our first store sa Shangri-La, wala kaming maisip.
“My business partner, si Raymund, a friend of his called one afternoon while he was watching a Sumo wrestling match, the name of the friend is Sam.
“So it was Sumo Sam. Best for us, it was a combination of Japanese and American.”
OUTSIDE-THE-MALL STORE. Kakaiba ang bagong branch na ito ng restaurant dahil wala ito sa loob ng mall, na nakasanayan ng marami.
Pero sabi ni Marvin, gusto nila kasing subukan “venturing to outside the mall space, like this, the Olympia and some other branches.
“Sanay na sanay kami sa mga malls, pero now we’re trying out stand-alone stations.”
Bukod pa sa pagiging unang stand-alone store, ito rin ang unang branch na nag-o-offer ng lunch and dinner buffet.
Sabi ng Karinderya Wars host, “This is actually in preparation for our biggest buffet.
“This one, yes, we’re practicing for checking if we could roll this out in other stores. This is actually ano, e, a product of all our promos.
“We’ve done eat-all-you-can in other branches and it worked very well. Eat-all-you-can sushi sa iba’t ibang branches, even sa Cebu and Davao, it is very successful.
“So, sabi namin, why not combine both and have additional extra value for their money? The ramen bars and salad bars.
“So ‘yon, ‘yon naman ang goal lagi ng group namin, e— for the dining experience to be something special and memorable for our customers, something new and something exciting!
“So ito, kinombine [combine] namin lahat ng nag-work na elements sa mga branches.”
Isang malaking announcement din ang ginawa ni Marvin nang gabing iyon: “We actually have the idea that we want to have the biggest and the ultimate Japanese buffet ever in the country.
“We are opening that very soon. It is under Sumo Sam Group of Restaurants. It’s about 1, 200 square meters space.
“Uhm, I can’t announce yet the location, but we’re developing the concept already. Within the year we will open that. It could seat about 600 to 700 people.
“So, soon we will launch that.”
THE KEY TO SUCCESS. Samantala, malaking bagay daw para kay Marvin at sa mga business partners niya ang pag-travel.
Sa ganoong paraan daw kasi sila nakakakuha ng ideya kung papaano pa mapapaganda ang kanilang mga stores, at i-upgrade ang kanilang food selection.
Dagdag pa niya, “also from our customers, our clients, we actually… we talk to them.
“Whenever we engage sa mga events, nagtatanong kami sa kanila kung ano pa ang gusto nila. Like where they would like us to open, or kung ano pang mga items na gusto nilang ilagay, especially in our menu.
“Kung ano ang malakas we train them, we improve them. Kung ano ‘yong slow-moving namin, we replace them with new items.”
Pero kung ano ang magpapa-“standout” sa kanilang mga restaurant naman ang pag-uusapan, ang sagot ni Marvin: “Our group, well other groups claim that they have it, ‘yong continuous striving namin to excellence in terms of quality of food, in service.
“And [also] making our presence felt, not only in Metro Manila but in the whole country.”