I originally never thought of writing an entry about this little fastfood chain called Manong Pepe’s Karinderia. Besides, I thought it’s going to be some success for a long while and I can get into writing about it at some point in time.
To think that this fastfood chain only got its start in 2007 with a branch at the EDSA Central Complex, (at the EDSA Central Market building to be exact) the fact that Manong Pepe’s got to a network of 20 branches (all in Metro Manila) throughout that 3+ years of operations is a testament to its growing popularity, not to mention the potential it has of being a “fastfood icon” of sorts.
Then again, its growth was also helped by the fact that its owner is THE ultimate Filipino fastfood restaurant icon: Jollibee through its corporate umbrella of Jollibee Foods Corp. which also runs food chains Greenwich and Chowking.
But while it is essentially one of those fastfood chains of a fastfood giant itself, (with a corny name as some might criticize) Manong Pepe’s Karinderia dared to be something else entirely, far removed from other fastfood chains not excluding its siblings. It aimed to be unique by bringing a Filipino popular dining experience to something as western as fastfood. It particularly gave a “carinderia” or the typical Filipino neighborhood eatery type of ambience which you don’t normally find in a regular fastfood chain. It emulated the “carinderia” as well in serving different food on the menu on a given time of day or any day for that matter. So you get variety that fastfood, or even restos don’t normally offer, at a price that’s as budget-friendly as the carinderia, making it lower than what fastfoods usually charge.
Unfortunately, this seemingly successful experiment of Jollibee integrating fastfood service with a carinderia twist would prove to be short-lived. An abrupt end brought about with the firm’s refocusing of its energies on a newly-bought growing fastfood chain that is the Iloilo-based Mang Inasal. While Mang Inasal and Manong Pepe’s are not direct competitors as far as the menu & dining experience is concerned, for Jollibee Foods, Mang Inasal was the stronger brand that needed its full support.
And while many such as myself cannot understand why Jollibee thinks both cannot coexist and let each thrive on their own with their own strengths, at the end of the day, it was to be a business decision the parent company thought would be beneficial in the long run.
And the time came when Manong Pepe’s quietly shut down on an Araw ng Kagitingan, April 9, 2011 after almost 4 years. Jollibee has not ruled out the possibility of bringing it back in the future. But until that happens, its humble contribution in giving a more distinct mark in a highly saturated fastfood industry with its unique take of a Filipino dining experience is something that will be missed.
© The Urban Roamer