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REAL FOOD FOR REAL COMFORT
It's a pretty straightforward beginning for a restaurant with a straightforward name: Back in the 1970s, three enterprising women conceptualized a restaurant to go against the grain of a rice-loving country.
Pancake House, built on unique flavors of pancakes and waffles, became such a surprise hit by capturing a wide age and class demographic. At that time, they observed a market opening up to ‘international’ comfort food, even beefing up their menu to include Western breakfast options. This became the selling point, and soon enough, rapid franchising happened in a matter of five years.
But despite the trajectory it led, perhaps nobody saw that the brand would grow to what it is today. Acquired by Martin Lorenzo back in 2000, The Pancake House Group is now an eight-restaurant-strong group that has been inducted in several Franchise Hall of Fame awards.
BUILDING IT BIGGER
Though it is undeniable that pancakes is still the brand’s bread-and-butter, it is noted that Pancake House’s strength is its boldness to keep their menu evolving. Bernadette Lee, Chief Operating Officer of the Pancake House Group, shares the vision: “We would like to be an interesting brand. We think about what the market wants or what the ongoing trend is in terms of product development.” This is why diners of Pancake House would always find new items in the menu after their last visit (a proof is their ever-thickening menu book).
Pancake House also understands the power of giving choices: They have gone more international with Mediterranean, Italian, and Asian recipes to add to their Filipino-American favorites. They have kid-friendly dishes, as well as low-sugar drinks, wheat options for sandwiches, and low-salt items. This means they can target a wider market, from children to yuppies to senior citizens.
They have also been aggressive on the marketing front, finding new ways to remain relevant. Last year, the popular TV show Junior Master Chef Pinoy Edition partnered with Pancake House to launch some of the show’s dishes in the restaurant’s menu. They were the perfect choice: Pancake House has a nationwide reach and they’ve always been a family restaurant. Ms. Lee adds, “We know that if we support the talent of children, we’ll become closer to the hearts of our own market like families, and it’s a right fit in terms of what they believe in and what they stand for, and what we believe in and what we stand for.
SWEET, SOLID FOUNDATIONS
Though an ace in reinventing, Pancake House knows that great care must be made to keep long-time patrons. The secret to forty years of constant yet successful changes? It is about staying faithful to good food and good ingredients, above all else.
For more than ten years, Pancake House has been teaming up with San Miguel Pure Foods Great Food Solutions (GFS) to provide the regular ingredients of their house favorites. Breakfast specialties begin with GFS’ fresh supply of hams and vienna sausages, and continue on to main courses that use chicken fillet and cheeses—core ingredients that built the brand’s core products. To complement Pancake House’s reinvention is GFS’ consistency—unique applications that are grounded on ingredients from the GFS portfolio, which have been loved by Filipinos over the years.
Real partnerships are tested by changing times, and the secret is mutual growth between the two brands. “There’s always a sharing of ideas between Pancake House and GFS,” adds Lee. Though they can rely on old favorites, GFS works with Pancake House’s chefs in finding new applications for their products, creating new tastes that will be classics in the next forty years and beyond.