PEOPLE

A sizzling start to young Filipina restaurateurs

Michelle Baltazar

The new owners of Sizzling Fillo are two young Filipina women with big plans to make their restaurant the hottest ticket in town.

Ann Margaret Calayag and Nina Cruz are the joint owners of Sizzling Fillo, a restaurant only a stone’s throw away from Lidcombe railway station.

Ann said they were both good friends with the previous owners and had been regulars since the restaurant opened four years ago.

Ann and Nina called their business ‘8th on the 12th Pty Ltd, in reference to becoming the eighth management of the restaurant and signing the deal on the 12th of February this year.

“We have become the new owners because, as frequent diners there ourselves, we saw its great potential,” she said.

The two most popular dishes on the menu are crispy pata (deep fried crispy-skin pork knuckles) and sizzling sisig (a Filipino hot plate dish of chopped liver and pork meat seasoned with calamansi, chilli pepper and chopped onions).

“But people also love our pancit guisado, kare kare, adobo, grilled boneless bangus, and chicharon bituka,” said Nina.

To attract and keep their customers, Ann and Nina are actively using social media, spreading the word on Facebook and sharing food photos whenever they can. Ann also said that good customer service and the restaurant’s warm and fun atmosphere are their most reliable marketing tools.

Next year, they hope that it will attract a mix of diners who wants to see artists perform live or rub shoulders with visiting Filipino celebrities.

“We highly support people with great talents, so in 2013, we are expecting regular Friday night gigs/jam at the restaurant and open karaoke competition on Saturday nights,” said Nina.

“We also aim to make Sizzling Fillo a preferred venue for visiting Filipino celebrities, for “meet-and-greet” sessions and for press conferences.

With many restaurants vulnerable to hard times, and even Sizzling Fillo itself switching owners several times since it opened, it seems only fair to ask them how they plan to make the business work.

“It's tough, but we love to push ourselves - to be able to juggle other work and personal commitments - and see the restaurant succeed,” said Ann.

“I guess if you love what you do and believe in its potential, it makes it easier to enjoy daily challenges that come with it,” said Nina.

As budding restaurateurs, what they lack in experience, they make up for in hard work and ingenuity. Having inked the deal on February 12, they used the next 48 hours to prep for February 14 celebrations.

“We had the chance to Facebook and verbally advertise the restaurant's Valentine’s dinner and it actually helped, as the restaurant was packed that night,” said Ann.

With this promising start, all they have to do is to keep the momentum going.

“I believe in success through hard work. We’re striking the iron while it's hot,” she said, unable to resist the pun on the restaurant's name.

Sizzling Fillo Restaurant
36 Railway Street, Lidcombe
Reservations: 02 9649 7939


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