Thanks to technology and social media, a lot of millennials are getting a leg-up to the business saddle. To build, manage, and promote a successful small food business by the age of 25 then might not seem as uncommon these days. Yet, opening a food stall for the first time with no business background and opening a new outlet several months later in another food park, then moving that second branch all in just one year is no easy task. Former PBB housemate and Star Magic talent Joe Vargas, who is now making it in the food park business, knows this all too well.
Joe is the owner of a beloved diner-ish joint called Joe's—Your Day and Night Longga. He serves everything made out of longganisa, but with a twist. The stall (first located in Buendia Food Park in Makati) boasts of longganisa in never-thought-of versions, like Salisbury and Teriyaki longganisa.
While good food business growth is credited not just to the managing powers of the owners, it's also to the value of what is served. The specialty in Joe's longganisa sausages comes from being homemade. The recipe is quite a passed-down secret, a family legacy of his girlfriend Bianca Pauline Yanga.
This first stall opened on April 25 last year. The second is located at Devour Food Hub in New Manila.
His first branch opened in San Isidro, Makati at Buendia Food By the Court, shortly followed by a second outlet at StrEAT in Ortigas mid-year which moved to Devour Food Hub E.Rodriguez, New Manila last November.
Joe and Bianca ventured into food for a living after a previous business attempt in a different category. While some people shy away from doing business with a significant other, Joe takes big pride in partnering with his girlfriend in this passion project. Bianca shares how the recipe became a family hit, "Every Christmas, 'tapos binibigay lang sa friends namin. 'Tapos one time nga binigyan ko sya ng pasalubong, 'tapos from there doon na nagsimula ito.”
Both clueless at the beginning, the two saw themselves shocked seeing their business eventually grow. But not without some bumps, particularly millennials afloat in quarter life. Joe shares, "Yung totoo, hindi namin alam na mahirap pala (mag-set up ng food stall) kasi wala kaming idea. Hindi namin inaral 'to, hindi kami business majors or anything. More of personally, gusto lang namin ma-prove 'yung sarili namin."
Confidence in their products and keeping their own focus proved to be helpful, says Joe. No need to worry about competitors, he recalls. "Lahat leap of faith... Mas nagawa namin sya smoothly kasi wala kaming kinukompetensya, walang kaming gustong unahan. Focused lang kami until now. Hanggang nandun na kami sa second namin (sa E.Rod)—actually, more of food hub sya, may gym sya, may barbershop.“
They had a natural symbiosis—Bianca's culinary heritage and her resourcefulness meshing well with Joe's amiable yet dynamic way of connecting with people for promotions.
Joe's personal favorite, pork sausage in Salisbury sauce
Joe notes the two types of flavors sold at his namesake business: sweet and salty. The meat: pork, chicken, and beef. It's a sinful treat, he says. To visitors, he recommends his favorite, "Ako yung lagi kong pinipili is yung salty na pork and with Salisbury sauce. Perfect 'yun. Ubos na ubos 'yun everyday." It comes in silog style, rice, egg, and all.
Another crowd favorite, Joe whispers, is the Teriyaki-drenched longganisa in a bowl. The dish features a blend of Asian barbecue notes in a sweet-style sauce paired with a sunny side-up egg and rice.
Joe's has been performing pretty well, the actor proudly reveals. Within just a handful of months, Joe says their first food park installment met their return of investment already. Proof that one: Filipinos love longganisa at any time of the day, and two: Joe's selection satisfied their market's flavor profile.
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Joe's tip for aspiring food stall owners is pretty simple, "Wala nang isip-isip, just do it. Kumbaga, kung alam mo naman na maganda naman yung patutunguhan mo, gawin mo nalang. Wag ka nang matakot." In fact, he is set to open his third brand at a certain SM Mall.
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Photography by Vyn Radovan, and from Instagram.com/meetjoeblack28, Instagram.com/joesdaynnightlongga