Bibi-Waf goes with the times
Fusion food is as much a product of social media as it is of global influences. People can experiment with more palate pleasers that delight more and more foodies.
This is how the dish Bibi-Waf (bibingka and waffle) came to be way back in 2007.
Chef JV Romero was working as an international food consultant for over 13 years when he teamed up with banker and business consultant Leon Ignacio, seasoned art director and graphic designer Alma Montano, and singer-TV host-actor Anthony Rosaldo to come up with hybrid food. The dish marries the comforting flavor of the classic Filipino bibingka with the all-American breakfast favorite item, the waffle.
It was easy to name the recipe Bibi-Waf, made of waffle bursting with bibingka batter topped with salted egg, buttercream, cheese, and caramel.
The business partners opened a Bibi-Wafa stall along Scout Rallos, Quezon City. They learned their first business lesson when they had to close it down because of visibility issues.
Unfazed, they opened their first full-blown branch, which made up for everything. Bibi-Waf in Cainta, Rizal flourished, the way its second branch, a coffee shop in Bacoor, Cavite, did.
The newest branch along Kamuning Road in Quezon City, was launched just this May, in the middle of a pandemic. It took over a laundromat that had to close shop.
Why is Bibi-Waf expanding when other businesses are folding up? The answer is flexibility.
The owners went with the trend and made their presence felt in social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They partnered with food delivery companies and brought Bibi-Waf to the growing number of people who work or study from home.
Romero used the traditional galapong rice–a staple of Filipino desserts–for his affordable menu items.
He came up with Luncheon Meat and Cheese, Pizza Waffle, Sausage and Cheese, Bacon and Caramel, Pepperoni and Cheese, Tuna Spread, Ham and Cheese, Heavenly Egg, Cheese Overload, Cream Cheese, Sliced Cheese and Butter.
The Nutella Sweet Waffle with a dash of chocolate, is a runaway bestseller, besides the classic Bibi-Waf, of course.
Bibi-Waf partnered with You First Marketing to promote its food items and franchise opportunities. A café type franchise, wherein Bibi-Waf manages and operates the restaurant. Bibi-Waf can co-manage the business, which is required to give 10 percent of its income to the mother company.
“Our waffle has no sugar, so it’s safe for diabetics,” says Romero. “The sweetness is in the toppings (e.g. caramel drizzle, butter, cream, etc.). Thus, those who want to cut down on sugar can skip the toppings.”
Rice meals include longganisa,Tankatsu, burger steak with plain or turmeric rice, and others. Unlimited chicken and waffles are also on the menu.
Further expansion is the next step. This year’s target is 100 branches all over the country, including cities like Pasig, Lipa, Batangas, Cebu, Davao, and Baguio.
Franchises are being eyed in Beijing, Los Angeles, and Tunisia. Mascots will soon greet and mingle with guests. “International franchisees may open their own franchises,” adds Romero.
He and his partners learned their hard-earned business lessons well. And the winners are the lovers of food that combines the best of the place they call home with what the Land overflowing with milk and honey offers.