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Restaurant recovery expected this year, chain eatery firm says

By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

CAVALLINO, INC., which operates the Racks chain of rib restaurants and holds the master franchise to the Tenya Tempura Tendon chain, said it expects its businesses to recover this year, powered by so-called “revenge spending.” 

“I’m sure, like every company, everybody has their own way of recovering. But so far, recovery is ongoing; we’re slowly getting out of that pandemic and slowly coming back to what it used to be,” Cavallino Managing Director Leopoldo M. Prieto III told BusinessWorld in a chance interview.

“We are almost there. You could say it is near… (Probably) within the year,” he added.

Asked what makes the company optimistic about achieving recovery this year, he said: “I think a lot of revenge spending is still there… that’s also why we (have an airport location), as a lot of revenge spending is centered around travel.” 

“Aside from that, Racks and Tenya are very popular with families. So that goes along with the sort of revenge spending on a family level,” he added.

On Thursday, the company opened a Racks and Tenya restaurant at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

“I think we found out it was a good opportunity for us to expand in the airport because we get a mixture of local as well as foreign tourists,” he said.

“And we would also like to get our name around, so we thought the airport was a good place to do that,” he added.

With the two newly opened restaurants, the company now has 21 Racks and 11 Tenya restaurants in its portfolio.

Asked about expansion plans, he said: “Usually, we tend to have around between 2 or 3 openings per year for each brand. So I think we’re going to open another two more within the year.”

“With what we have in the pipeline… for now they’ll usually be in Metro Manila. For provinces, I think maybe in a couple of years,” he added.

He said that the company is also looking to acquire brands that are not limited to restaurants.

“We don’t really have any set kind of concept to be looking at. So as long as something catches our eye, we will go for it,” he added.

He said that restaurants, in general, are being affected by the rising cost of fuel, which raises the cost of ingredients, though his company’s restaurants will try to absorb higher costs.

“If they can bring down the price of fuel, that’ll help us a lot. We use a lot of fuel, and that, unfortunately, translates to every commodity we have to buy, like meat, rice, and vegetables — pretty much everything,” he said.

“As a company, we try to hold off on price increases as much as possible. Usually, there’s a threshold, but as much as possible, as a group, we do not like to do that,” he added.

He said that the latest adjustment the company  implemented was in February; the prior adjustment took place during the pandemic.