In Asian Kitchens, Business Sense, Vol. 19

In a country where people have a great passion for food, it is no surprise that many corners and streets are teeming with different types of places to eat – from street stalls, kiosks, fast food chains to full-service restaurants. In this clutter of restaurants, it is important to stand out and differentiate your offerings from the other players.

“The distinction of Tapa King hinges on its brand promise of delivering home-cooked meals everyday,”says Emil Capili, Tapa King’s General Manager. Normally, when you dine in a fast food restaurant, you see their sunny side up eggs in a perfectly circled mould. In Tapa King, eggs are cooked the same way it is cooked at home, with an imperfect circle and a slight burnt on the side. Their cooking process is authentically home-cooked.

To keep the business healthy and ensure customer satisfaction, Tapa King always finds new ways to improve their current offerings. They maintain a Product Board, consisting of team members from the Operations, R&D, Finance, Marketing, and Training departments, which looks after Tapa King’s product offering. “New product ideas typically come from the operations department since they have a close touch point with customers. The R&D then creates the product, and Finance does the costing. Marketing then does a “sensitivity test” wherein they let actual customers see, smell, and taste the products. The customers are the final judges who determine which products will go to the menu and which will be dropped.”

To be a successful food chain, Capili spilled the key ingredients – the ability to look for customer pain points, and be able to satisfy those needs and wants with excellent execution.

“A food chain normally solves a customer’s pain point of hunger. The solution presented should meet the needs and wants of the customers. And this should be executed consistently. The customer has to be happy from the time he enters the store up to the time he exits so that there will be repeat business.”

And while Tapa King is building a strong brand in the local marketplace, they are also growing the business in the international scene. How do they do it? The secret is in having a strong local partner. “We are blessed to have good international master franchisees that take care of our brand and follow our systems,”shares Capili.

“Also, you have to think globally but act locally,”Capili adds. “As much as possible, we tr y to adapt to the local marketplace. In Dubai, for example, we approved the R&D of new products such as Tapa Arabica & Chicken Tapa.”

Indeed, Tapa King has gone a long way from its humble beginnings about three decades ago. From a small outlet in Makati City, it has now expanded to 100 branches in the Philippines, five in Dubai, and one in Singapore. “Expanding overseas has not been difficult for us because of the volume of overseas Filipino workers across the globe now.”


Tapa King’s future is poised to diversify away from the traditional restaurant segment and into multiple distribution channels. They launched Budget Tapa King in Februar y last year. In a span of one year, they were able to grow the brand to more than 30 branches across the country.

They are now exploring the bus-type kiosk eater y business model. The strong players in that segment in the Philippines are those serving burgers in a “rice-eating country”. The idea is to serve tapa (cured meat) and other rice meals in a clean bus kiosk at an affordable price.

“Also in the pipeline for Tapa King is to sell ready-to eat microwaveable cooked Tapa, Egg, and Rice inside convenience stores. The boom of the BPO industry in the country ignited the expansion of convenience stores. There are roughly 2,500 branches of convenience stores across the country and tapping these distribution points is another revenue stream that we are looking at. Implementation of this project will most likely start by Q3.”

Eileen Chanthe king of HOME-COOKED MEALS