(Source: Business Inquirer)
EIGHTEEN years after setting up Binalot, entrepreneur Rommel Juan is ready to bring his proprietary Filipino restaurant chain to the global market. And like the early days of the offshore expansion of Jollibee Food Corp., Juan’s Binalot plans to build up a critical mass with the help of the overseas Filipino community.
The first overseas market on Juan’s list is the United Arab Emirates, where Binalot recently awarded a franchise to the Al Ahli Holding group—the same group earlier reported to be working on a “Little Manila” strip in Dubai. Other homegrown brands that this group plans to bring to Dubai are Jay-J’s (Filipino restaurant), Fruitas (tropical fruit shake retailer), Mochicreme (ice cream), Zagu (pearl milk shake) and Fiftea (milk tea).
Juan told Biz Buzz that the UAE franchisee would help Binalot expand throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), referring to the political and economic alliance of six Middle Eastern countries. He said the target would be to open 21 stores in the GCC region within five years.
“We are bringing a taste of home to our fellow Filipinos who are residing or working abroad. For our next venture, we are looking at the United States and possibly Singapore or Malaysia where we see a dense population of Filipinos,” Juan said.
Binalot is known for having food wrapped in banana leaves. But even if Dubai isn’t a tropical country, the group is lucky because banana leaves are available in the territory right now, Juan said. With Filipinos forming more than 20 percent of the Dubai population, Juan is optimistic that Binalot has a niche in the food community. Doris C. Dumlao.