Always strike when the iron is still hot, and that’s what the couple behind Baliwag Lechon Manok did back in 1985. The lechon manok craze was a hit in the mid-1980s and the two budding entrepreneurs took the risk and opened their very first kiosk, naming it after the wife’s hometown of Baliwag in Bulacan.
Expanding due to the demand
And now that they’re celebrating their 37th year in 2022, the humble food chain has over 400 kiosk outlets, 40 food court branches, and six restaurants nationwide to date. With their first restaurant, Baliwag Grill & Restaurant, in E. Rodriguez, Quezon City in 1999, and the very first food court branch opening in SM Megamall in 2004, “expanding the business back then was inevitable,” says the Baliwag team.
The retail brand adds, “Opportunities presented by the market made us create other venues to serve our products to the ever growing target market. The organic growth of the business leaning to operational cost efficiency, manpower challenges, and supply requirements were also the reasons why we decided to expand.”
Easy cooking at home
With a combined capital investment of P10,000, and in a span of a few years, Baliwag Lechon Manok has added more food choices into their menu. Aside from their juicylicious lechon manok with everyone’s favorite special sauce, there are more food choices to try, including all-time favorites such as crispylicious liempo and chicharon which now comes in plain, spicy, and with laman.
Three food items are also making waves now—Crispy Bagnet, Crispy Ulo, and Crispy Pata—all of which are available in frozen ready-to-fry packages. With dining restrictions in place, the Baliwag team knew that they had to make sure their all-time favorite dishes are still enjoyed by many Filipinos at home. “We repackaged some of our existing products and brought in together with some new merchandise to the market via our kiosks and restaurants.”
There are also over 15 favorite Filipino dishes that are sold as ready-to-heat packs, including Pork Binagoongan, Beef Steak, Kare-Kare, Beef Caldereta, Lechon Paksiw, Dinuguan, Lengua, Callos, Embutido, Laing, Spaghetti sauce. These food packs are good for three to four persons, making it an easy and no-brainer way to prepare delicious meals at home, or even to bring to work and trips. Everyone also has to try their original tasting Baliwag fried chicken, the Chikititas, which is also an easy dish to prepare.
All of these were conceptualized during the early stages of the pandemic. “We noticed that most people couldn’t eat out and found it more convenient and safer to eat at home. So we thought of a way to bring the Baliwag cooking that many are looking for into their own homes. And with this, the idea of ready-to-heat and ready-to-fry food was born.”
Food storage is also easy with both ready-to-heat and ready-to-fry items, with simple cooking instructions printed on all the product labels. “Anyone can drop by our kiosks, food court branches, and restaurants every day during store hours. We are also serving our products via online ordering with our delivery partners.” Last, but not the least, don’t forget their bottled side dishes and food accompaniments such as Atsara, Bagoong, Chili Hot Bagoong, and Kimchi that make meals extra flavorful.
For those who miss eating out, you can visit the food court which offers the bestselling lechon manok. They also have two-ulam and three-ulam combo meals with viands such as dinuguan, kare-kare, ulo sa miso, and sinigang sa baboy, to name a few. Baliwag Grill & Restaurant offers a wider variety with their Baliwag Greats starting off with Sisig, Kare-Kare, Pancit Bihon, Pork Barbecue, Chicken Barbecue, Bagnet, Chop Suey, and more. They have other services as well, including delivery and catering for events and parties.
And whether you choose to dine out al fresco or dine in at any Baliwag Grill & Restaurants, eat at home or send your favorite ready-to-fry Baliwag Greats, ready-to-heat Baliwag food packs, the Filipino tradition of salu-salo with family and friends will continue this holiday season. Baliwag makes sure that the love and care of Filipinos will be felt through meals shared—be it virtually or physically, especially this Christmas for Noche Buena and New Year. There are so many food combinations to choose from that you can definitely have a Baliwag feast every day.
Gift baskets that can also be customized are also ready by November. For example, a big basket of 12 chicharon packs in mixed flavors costs P850. For orders and inquiries, call 02-86542929 or send a message through their Facebook page at @baliwaglechonofficial.
Thirty-seven years of enjoying the crispiest, crunchiest, and most delicious meals have brought Baliwag Lechon Manok to what it is today—an iconic Filipino household brand name that everyone loves and trusts.
Nathaniel C. Uy