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THE MAKING OF A RESTAURANT CHAIN

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Going into a restaurant business is no easy feat, especially when one has no background in the venture.

But the Noel family-owned Casa Verde has proven that success has less to do with experience than it does with determination.

“We just took the challenge one at a time. We learned things along the way and we learned from our mistakes,” Brian Noel, Casa Verde general manager, told reporters during the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) Grand Chamber Awards and Fellowship Night last Friday.

That evening, 34-year-old Noel was recognized as CCCI’s Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year.

Roots

Casa Verde traces its roots to an ancestral house near Ramos Street in Cebu City and was first established in 2002 as a canteen for students studying and living in dormitories near the area.

Since the house was unused for a long time, he said his family thought of putting up a dormitory for students at the nearby Velez College as well as set up study centers and an eatery.

Green house

The name Casa Verde is a Spanish term for “green house,” which refers to the family’s ancestral home.

Noel said the family spent “millions” to restore the torn down house. He said it would have cost them less just to demolish the structure and build a new one, but they wanted to keep it as it is because it has been standing since the 1900s.

he menu

“When we started, we started with easier to cook items like chicken and ngohiong,” said Noel, adding that nobody in their family came from a restaurant business.

Much of what Casa Verde’s menu is today, the family owes to his cousin Nicole Galang, who was among the pioneers of the business being the eldest among the cousins.

He said his cousin was not a chef, but loved to cook and has since propelled the restaurant into what it is today.

Home-style food

Casa Verde boasts of home-style comfort food such as their best-selling mouth-watering steaks, sumptuous pasta, and sinful desserts.

While the family’s primary target back then were students, the restaurant started to draw in professionals from offices nearby as well as people who would go out of their way just to find good food in hard-to-find places.

What started as a 20-seater canteen has grown into one of the most successful family-owned restaurant chains in Cebu City.

To date, Casa Verde has three more branches in Cebu City located at the Cebu IT Park, Ayala Terraces, and SM Seaside City Cebu.

Noel was still in college taking up Management Accounting at the University of San Carlos when Casa Verde’s Ramos branch was first opened to the public.

Expansions

It was in 2008, after studying for a while in China, when Noel joined the family business. His first project was the expansion to Cebu IT Park.

The group also has restaurants called The Suite Room at Ayala Center Cebu and Room for Dessert in SM Seaside.

Years after their first few expansions in Cebu City, Noel said they explored the Luzon market and now has two Casa Verde branches and a stand-alone restaurant called the Port in Manila.

Presently, Casa Verde has a total of around 800 seats across its six branches in Cebu and Manila. (CEBU DAILY NEWS)