24 Jan2012

I got up at 4:45 am on Sunday, the 15th of January… thinking and hoping that we were ready for the probable deluge of folks for Sinulog at our Mango Avenue Branch of Zubuchon. I had to get to the restaurant early or get stuck in the crowds of millions expected to attend. But first, I headed to our lechonan to make sure production was under control. Over 50 lechons were to be cooked that day, and we had turned down dozens of other orders to ensure we didn’t overextend ourselves. But the sight of dozens of pigs, already on bamboo poles, was merely a hint of what was about to hit later that day…

Preparations had started the night before and by 6am, the first dozen or so lechons were just an hour or two away from being fully cooked. The lechonan crew would finish their last lechon for the day by late afternoon, and to buoy flagging spirits, I offered up the release of 2 cases of beer for the crew AS SOON as the pigs were cooked. :) Trust me, Sinulog turns into one humongous street party that consumes millions of liters of beer in one day!

It’s actually far more efficient to roast a lot of pigs at the same time… but the intense heat was almost infernal. Our lechonan has specially angled roofs, to guide hot air out on one side, to try and make sure that the other side of the lechonan is more comfortable for the folks who stoke the fires and keep watch over the roasting pigs… It is an extremely difficult job to do day in and day out…

We made it to the restaurant by 7:30 or so, well before we had planned to open at 9am. I even had to help carry 28-30+ kilo lechons several hundred meters through the assembling dancers to make sure we had stocks when we opened the doors. The restaurant staff were all dressed in black Zubuchon t-shirts, for Sinulog, and at their request, in jeans and sneakers to help survive the double shifts that day. They were thrilled that I did a quick interview with a comedian from GMA7, for an upcoming pilot show of his that will air in February, and they got a couple of shots with the budding celebrity… It seems a small thing, but it isn’t, photos of staff in magazines, or with this celebrity or that are treasured and appreciated a great deal. :)

The calm before the storm…part of the crew pose for a group photo outside our Mango Avenue Branch.

We had a little stall with drinks, chicharon, fast meals and lechon outside to provide a quick serve station throughout the day… all seemed very manageable until about 10:45am. Then suddenly, without much warning, wave after wave of customers started to arrive and order meals. We clocked 865 covers who sat down to meals inside the 60 seater restaurant in a period of 12 hours. It means each seat turned over some 14x in half a day! And that isn’t counting the 1,000 plus folks who purchased fast meals, beer and chicharon from the outside stall at the same time. Let’s just say it was a tsunami of diners, nothing like I had ever seen or experienced before. Service must have indeed suffered, but the crew handled the day brilliantly, in my opinion. Against all commercial sense, I put a stop to the meals at 11pm, despite another say 3-4 solid hours of customers left… I thought the crew had had enough.

Things outdoors were getting incredibly rowdy, and the complex we are in must have, combined, sold some 3,000 cases of beer (72,000 bottles) in less than half a day! The staff were exhausted, but pumped with adrenaline, and we had our best day, by far, businesswise, EVER. :)

That’s me, at the door, slowing the influx of diners. I am happy we closed when we did. No untoward incidents, all staff survived the weekend and made it home fine. We have learned some valuable lessons for next year’s madness. We closed for lunch the next day to help get more time for crew to sleep… On behalf of all of us at Zubuchon, I would like to thank everyone (including many readers!) who dropped by the restaurant(s) over the Sinulog holiday… we truly appreciate your business. Maraming Salamat!!



  1. Meg Mationg says:

    Congratulations to a job well done Marketman and crew :-)

    Jan 24, 2012 | 2:22 pm


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  3. Papa Ethan says:

    It’s very considerate of you to have your staff’s welfare in mind in spite of the potential business bonanza in the extra hours. Otherwise, the festive air of the Sinulog might come across as drudgery to the crew who would be on duty next year. Congratulations!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 2:53 pm

  4. gm says:

    you’re doing a great service to all food loving / lechon loving creature on this earth. keep it up! thanks for taking care of the crew too. a lot of businessmen should be like you.

    Jan 24, 2012 | 3:24 pm

  5. Sunset Goddess Manila says:

    Congrats Market Man! Trying out your Zubuchon the next time I’m in Cebu is definitely on top of my Cebu checklist :)

    Jan 24, 2012 | 3:29 pm

  6. moni says:

    Congratulations MM for Zubuchon’s success. It is rare to find a boss with a big heart for the crew like you. Keep it up and may the year of the dragon bring you more good health and success.

    Jan 24, 2012 | 3:31 pm

  7. bisdakRN says:

    You are an awesome boss MM! Your crew sure are lucky to have a very considerate boss like you. Kodus!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 4:05 pm

  8. linda says:

    Well done,MM and crew! MM, you are the man!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 7:41 pm

  9. Betchay says:

    Congratulations!Mabuhay ang Zubuchon!!!!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 8:06 pm

  10. Faust says:

    Way to go MM, that’s a good boss!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 9:07 pm

  11. Faust says:

    Good Job! Well Done!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 9:08 pm

  12. florisa says:

    sana lahat ng boss tulad mo!
    congrats MM sa 3rd store.

    Jan 24, 2012 | 10:09 pm

  13. Gej says:


    Jan 24, 2012 | 10:58 pm

  14. Pink Carnations says:

    hi MM, i admire you so much for your business sense, for always being mindful of giving to customers the best deal you can give (not to mention the overall ambiance you create in your restaurants by way of flowers, etc etc, and so much more for the big heart you have for your crew – the very people who will take care back of your business even if you are not around. You are one of the few. God bless you!

    Jan 24, 2012 | 11:04 pm

  15. eustressor says:

    congratulations MM and the Zubuchon crew! hopefully this year matikman ko na ang pinakamasarap na lechon sa balat ng lupa =)

    Jan 24, 2012 | 11:36 pm

  16. krizteene says:

    job well done, mm! Congratulations!

    Jan 25, 2012 | 1:59 am

  17. Meg says:

    Way to go Boss MM. I’m very sure the crew earned premium pay for all the effort rendered. Teamwork is the name of the game. Viva El Sto Nino.

    Jan 25, 2012 | 2:01 am

  18. bakerwannabe says:

    There is a Chinese saying (I translate) “big heart great fortune.” Fortune here does not only mean financial prosperity but all around well being of a person and the family. Your humilty and kindness towards your crew will come back to you a thousand fold. You are a role model for bosses. God bless you and your family. May your Zubuchon empire grow boundlessly. May the St. Nino be always with you.

    Jan 25, 2012 | 3:31 am

  19. Mari says:

    Congratulations and more power to you and your staff. Can’t wait to be there in a few weeks!

    Jan 25, 2012 | 4:55 am

  20. Lilibeth Zialcita says:

    You’re a very kind person and have helped a lot of people. May God continue to bless you in all your endeavors!

    Jan 25, 2012 | 4:56 am

  21. Marketman says:

    Thank you for all your comments. But I must say this does appear one-sided… while I try to offer crew far better working conditions, compensation, etc…. I am an extremely exacting and demanding boss and it isn’t always hunky dory. One only has to see me “lose it” to understand that some folks wouldn’t characterize me as being all warm and fuzzy. Just to set the record straight. :) Having said that, we have much less turnover than most similar companies, crew are paid well by competitive standards, they have other benefits sooner and when they perform well, get promoted faster… We also avoid “permanent contractual” arrangements… And finally, best of all, I think they also eat better, if average weight gain since joining Zubuchon is any indication. :) Oh, and we have really good Christmas parties. :)

    Jan 25, 2012 | 6:57 am

  22. melanie says:

    I’ll bet MM’s kindness and generosity [and demanding/exacting?] as a boss has something to do with what he saw from his parents…his parents must have been good bosses too! May your tribe increase!!!

    Jan 25, 2012 | 7:37 am

  23. Marketman says:

    Melanie… not necessarily. A different generation, let’s just say. :)

    Jan 25, 2012 | 7:51 am

  24. PITS, MANILA says:

    CONGRATULATIONS, MM! i’m happy to be one of your readers. and i can see that you’re happy with the shower of goods and graces for that day. the mere mention of “lose it” amuses me. :)

    Jan 25, 2012 | 9:39 am

  25. yette says:

    Hi there MM. Brings back the good old days to me. I used to work for a theme park when I was younger and was assigned to the food services section. I’m in it for the crew. Had experiences such as this one during holidays and stuff. And it gets really crazy. The adrenaline rush of having to serve as you say a “TSUNAMI of guests” as we call them. Keeping in mind that the quality of service does not suffer. But its the sense of accomplishment of being able to survive the hoopla does lifts a persons spirit like no other. Tired as you are, the smile on the guests faces as you serve each and everyone of them is a boost like no other. Kudos to your crew and the captain of Zubuchon’s Ship (“,).

    Jan 25, 2012 | 10:23 am

  26. lurker_no_more says:

    I would love to work for a boss like you Marketman, Congrats!

    Jan 25, 2012 | 11:38 am

  27. Ray says:

    This picture you took was glorious :D ! I’ve been craving for lechon from Cebu for like the longest time. I think I will finally get my hands on one this summer :D Will try to visit one of your branches :)

    Jan 25, 2012 | 1:48 pm

  28. boopsie says:

    Congratulations on your Sinulog success. You really deserve it with all the preparation work. im pretty sure you plan to double your sales next year.

    Jan 25, 2012 | 4:31 pm

  29. edelweiza says:

    Wow, I can imagine the crowd and the diners trying to get seats at your resto! When the time comes that I finally catch the Sinulog festival in Cebu, I will choose Mango Avenue as celebration venue and dine at Zubuchon. :)

    Jan 25, 2012 | 4:59 pm

  30. Gej says:

    Your last picture showed a predominantly young crowd ha. Great!

    Jan 25, 2012 | 6:32 pm

  31. Chinky says:

    Demanding /exacting bosses who are fair, kind and generous become one’s favorite! May your tribe increase. And Congratulations to you and your crew for surviving Sinulog.

    Jan 25, 2012 | 6:55 pm

  32. Lambchop says:

    It must have been a veritable madhouse!! But how exciting to have had your best business day ever, right?? Congrats, MM! :D

    Jan 25, 2012 | 6:59 pm

  33. vanillabeans says:

    i can’t wait to try zubuchon when i visit cebu in march! :)

    Jan 25, 2012 | 7:22 pm

  34. organicmanila says:

    Well done MM and Crew…. congratulations

    Jan 25, 2012 | 8:38 pm

  35. Pam says:

    MM, Can I just mention first how much I enjoy it when you do your “counting” in your posts? I am so amazed at how you work your numbers & they’re often of interest, rather than a bore to read! Setting that aside, congratulations on another job well done! I am glad that you are that kind of boss & owner — A perfectionist with a big heart. No wonder you are always blessed with success. You demand excellence yet you know how to treat others excellently. I think this post benefitted the readers more than anyone else. So inspiring! Kiong Hee!

    Jan 26, 2012 | 4:24 pm

  36. Angel says:

    Congrats. I was supposed to be there but because I got pregnant, I have to cancel my trips due to paglilihi :-) Looking forward to have a taste of Zubuchon maybe after giving birth, or after my first trimester. I’m a fan of you MM :-)

    Jan 27, 2012 | 2:35 am

  37. maricel yum! says:

    i have been a fan for the longest time but i never leave a comment. but today, i just cant help but be in awe on how good you are to your staff. not many businessmen will think the way you do. you might have raked in less sales for that day by closing at 11pm but i am sure you have earned the respect and loyalty of your staff. hats off to you sir.

    Jan 27, 2012 | 10:20 am

  38. ka_fredo says:

    God willing ill be able to go to Sinulog next year :), Zubuchon will be part of my itinerary.

    More Power MM!

    Jan 27, 2012 | 11:16 am

  39. netoy says:

    We were privy to the ‘commotion’ the sinulog brought forth to zubuchon. we were lucky enough to grab a table when we went there on a saturday. the place was PACKED!! yet, MM’s crew was able to handle the deluge. Congratulations, MM for a well-trained crew. Though extremely busy, they were able to handle everything. Please give our thanks to Chris, our waitstaff for being so patient and kind. Also, please give our thanks to (I’m sorry I did not get her name) who-could-be your lady floor manager (as she was not in uniform) who was funny, extremely gracious and so attentive.

    And a very heartfelt THANKS to you, MM for being such a gracious host when I introduced myself and my friends. you really made us feel welcome though you were so busy. A special thanks for the generosiity in giving us gratis a jar calamansi marmalade so that we can get a taste. that was really so nice of you.

    and the food was really excellent and worth coming back for… iba talaga ang taste ng laman, very savory ika nga. yummmmmmmmmmmmm!

    Jan 28, 2012 | 9:17 am

  40. Marketman says:

    netoy, it was a pleasure to meet you and other readers that weekend. Glad you have made it home in one piece… thankfully, you visited Saturday, the crowds were 3x heavier on Sunday! :)

    Jan 28, 2012 | 3:00 pm

  41. Des Lacson says:

    Can’t wait to try Zubuchon this May with my Mom and sis.
    This is my first comment but I’ve been reading this blog for years now. :)
    More power MM!

    Feb 7, 2012 | 4:26 pm


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