Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Kris Aquino deserves her title as the “Queen of All Media.” In the Philippines, where media holds the greatest power in influencing our diverse and incredible large population’s vote, local lingo (we’ve gone from Taglish to Taglish where the “Tag” is influenced by becky speak), and yes, even the majority’s eating habits and dining choices. We’ve learned to live with commercials delaying the scheduled time of your not-so-secrete favorite teleserye or Koreanovela, and each advertisement featuring taglines and jingles that you’ve committed to memory. Kris Aquino isn’t just an actress, host, and endorser of every product in your grocery list (Downy, Safeguard, Olay, Pantene, just to name a few); she’s also included restaurants into her sphere of influence. Kris TV has featured both popular and smaller restaurant establishments, where she isn’t afraid to comment honestly about the food on the spot. But just how strong is her influence when it comes to food that we eat out? We interviewed two restaurant owners about their own experience after being featured on Kris TV.
Long Lines Upon Sarsa’s Opening
Sarsa wasn’t just lucky to have been featured on Kris TV—the episode where Kris sampled some of the food happened to air on the same day as the restaurant’s opening. “I remember that we had our blessing at around October 15 and the episode was aired at the same time,” JP Anglo shares. “The show aired at 8:30 am and the restaurant’s blessing was at 10am. In a matter of hours, people started coming.” The restaurant also happened to open on a Friday and that weekend filled the space with customers continuously, to the point that customers were waiting in line.
Kris Aquino’s influence didn’t just attract a large volume of customers; people from all over the Philippines and even other countries visited Sarsa after seeing it on Kris TV. “Over the weekend, there was a family from Batangas who took a van. There was also a girl from Cagayan who took a plane to have Sunday lunch (there). There were even families who came straight from the airport and there first stop was the restaurant!” JP recalls. Filipinos from across the world included a girl from Iraq, balikbayans from Australia, a few from Qatar, and Singapore, just to name a few. Remember that the Filipino population isn’t limited to the millions across provinces: we are known to be “everywhere”, where ABS CBN’s TFC (The Filipino Channel) is shown on international televisions.
Apart from Kris’ incredible reach and fanbase, JP notes that this media icon knows her food. “She’s just one person, but she’s so frank. She eats a lot and she knows how to eat. She has a very sharp palate and her food IQ is so high. She definitely knows what she’s talking about.” JP advises that restaurants who are called or want to be featured need to be ready. “The after effect will work both ways: it’s either you make it or you break it. Some restaurants fold because they can’t handle the demand.”
Mama Chit Takes a Chance on Kris
Marikina is another area that has its own food crawl, and among its bigger names is Mama Chit’s Coffee House. Located in the far-flung area of San Roque, it’s quite a drive and located along the quiet streets of Marikina. But enter the space and you’ll find yourself transported to the American diners of the yesteryears: old Coke bottles and logos, 50s cartoons of women, and other nostalgic memorabilia. But apart from the diner type setup, Mama Chit’s has earned Kris Aquino’s approval of having the best burger out there.
“Dati kilala na rin kami,” Mama Chit shares as she takes a short break from the day’s business. “Pero nung na-feature kami sa Kris Aquino, gumanda yung sales ko.” (Before we were relatively known, but our sales improved after being featured on Kris’ show). “Kahit yung mga kapitbahay namin nagulat na lang sila na may restaurant dito.” (Even my neighbors were surprised that there was a restaurant in the area.) Mama Chit’s enjoyed three to four months of strong sales. After four months, business became regular but that post-Kris TV period was incredibly busy for such a small coffee shop-slash-burger restaurant.
“Talagang dinadayo kami ng mga taga-probinsiya. Meron mga taong taga-La Union, Pampanga—hanggang south at north. Nagpapasalamat talaga ako kay Kris kasi naging maganda ang resulta dito,” Mama Chit shares. (People from different provinces would really visit us; every where from the southern to northern areas. I’m really grateful that Kris featured us and the results were really good for the business). The response was also very overwhelming for Mama Chit and her staff. The large volume and long lines were a shock at first, but she made sure to adjust and hire new staff to cope with the sudden boom in business.
Kris Aquino’s team contacted the restaurant for the feature and it was only then that Mama Chit accepted that type of publicity. “Talagang hindi ako tumatanggap ng publicity na ganyan pero nung sabi Kris Aquino, bigla akong pumayag,” she tells us. (I don’t really accept publicity gigs, but when I found out it was Kris, I readily accepted).
Kris Aquino’s influence is here to stay and restaurants that have been visited by her have been blessed with an edge over their many competitors. But like any other stroke of luck, restaurant owners need to make the most of the good business and find ways to sustain it for a long future.