Paolo Bediones related that he and co-news anchor Grace Lee had dreamt of venturing into a food business together and they'd just turned that dream into reality.
In partnership with talent manager Arnold Vegafria, Paolo and Grace inaugurated the Hoolala Korean Chicken last Friday, November 7, Friday, along Escriva Drive in Pasig City.
Apart from Grace being Korean, the choice of their food business was dictated by the increasing popularity of Korean dishes in the country.
But Hoolala's unique selling proposition lies in the authenticity of its offering, and there's no better judge of this than Grace herself.
“Si Grace nagluluto, yung mom niya nagluluto, and we wanted to come up with something unique, yung hindi mo nahahanap o natitikman kahit saan,” Paolo told PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) and other members of the press during the launch of their business.
TRADE SECRET. He takes pride in their one-of-a-kind chicken recipes that distinguish Hoolala's menu from the chicken dishes that abound in many food establishments.
He said, “Ni-research pa ito sa Korea para maging authentic at naghanap ng ibat-ibang flavours.
“Ang mapapansin sa pagluto ng manok, yung labas very crispy, pero yung loob extremely juicy.
"So may trade secret to keep yung flavour na nahahalo namin sa ibat-ibang sauce.”
As for the division of responsibilities, he remarked, “Kami ni Arnold Vegafria, marketing, conceptualization din dun sa mga logo, and what-not.
“Pagdating sa kitchen, kaharian nina Grace at mommy [niya] yon.”
Paolo further revealed that he used to be a business partner in a food-delivery business.
His other food business venture is the Puñta Restaurant in Mandaluyong.
WISE MOVE. He considers his choice of business a wise decision, “Iba kasi yung restaurant kasi may nakikita kang pisikal na istruktura.
"Nakikita mo yung produkto at nakikita mo yung customers na labas-pasok at bumabalik.
“Mas fulfilling kasi agad-agad nakikita mo yung customer satisfaction at may immediate feedback.
"Pag di nila nagustuhan yung pagluto, sasabihin nila sa yo.
"Pag nagustuhan naman nila ang serbisyo, sasabihin nila sa yo at pag nagustuhan nila ang pagkain, babalik at babalik sila.”
The TV5 news anchor revealed that when his controversial video scandal made headlines last September, he kept himself busy with his business venture.
“Ito yung naging therapy nung may mga pinagdadaanan akong pagsubok noong mga nakaraang buwan.
“Ito yong araw-araw nagpapagising sa akin ng umaga na may gana na mai-pursue yung mga pangarap ko pa rin,” Paolo related.
SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Grace Lee agreed with Paolo in saying that they came up with a business that offers chicken dishes unlike any other, so far.
“One thing that sets us apart is that we have about 30 variants of Korean recipes that you can enjoy—crispy on the outside, juicy inside and it’s not oily.
“We’ve learned it from Korea, and our sauces are amazing.
"And there is fun in choosing the flavour that you want so it’s a very exciting Korean chicken experience.”
She also mentioned that their food shop offers dishes that are currently popular in Seoul, her hometown.
She said the increasing number of Korean restaurants in the country further convinced her that the Filipino palate has gotten used to Korean cuisine.
“I guess the market now is really ready for Korean cuisine, whether Korean chicken or more authentic bulgogi [Korean marinated beef].
“Nakikita ko kasi na dumadami na ang Korean restaurants.
"Tinatangkilik talaga ng Filipinos and there’s really a curiosity, kaya excited ako kasi this chicken experience is closest to home.”
MARKETING STRATEGY. The partners, being familiar with the Filipino mentality, opted for fast-food instead of a high-end Korean resto.
Grace explained, “Kasi iniisip agad ng mga tao pag restaurant, ‘Ay, hindi afford kasi mahal.’ I wanted to break that.
“Kasi dito [Hoolala], you can have lunch at P89. Rice, chicken with drink. And you can say, ‘I had Korean chicken at P89.’
"So that’s part of me trying to make Korean chicken affordable.”
Also, this early, the triumvirate behind Hoolala have started mapping an expansion plan. Two more branches in the first quarter next year and, according to Grace, "hopefully when we’re blessed, then we’ll expand quicker in a year’s time.”