Jurick Jimenez first launched D’ Master Chaolong Haus in 2016. What started as a small restaurant in España, Manila has now grown into multiple branches nationwide–all thanks to Jimenez’s persistence over the years!
Jimenez has always been interested in business ever since he was young. He has done simple “buy and sell” in highschool and college to earn extra money.
He took up Aircraft Maintenance Technology in college and wanted to enroll in a flying school. “Actually, do’n ako natuto mag negosyo kasi ‘di kaya ng parents ko na ipasok ako sa flying school, so ang ginawa ko, nag negosyo ako. Tinulungan ko yung parents ko na matupad ‘yong pangarap ko na maging piloto. Kailangan ko mag negosyo para masuportahan ang pag-aaral ko,” Jimenez shared.
But he still pursued opening his own business even after graduation. And that’s when he knew doing business was the path he has always wanted to take. He tried several businesses before D’ Master Chaolong Haus came into fruition. Though his parents were a bit reluctant to his choices after college, Jimenez still wanted to explore and make the most out of the opportunities coming his way.
The Birth of Master Chaolong Haus
Coming from another failed business, Jimenez’s only goal back then was to open a restaurant that could earn enough to support his daily needs. Using his own savings and some financial help from his parents, he started Master Chaolong Haus with a PHP300,000 capital.
And to his surprise, Master Chaolong Haus was received well by the customers. “Sa dinami-rami ng mga pinagdaanan kong business, ito ‘yong negosyo na hindi mo iisipin na lalaki. Kasi sa mga dati kong negosyo, iniisip ko, ah in two years time mag mu-multiply ito, pero hindi nangyari. Pero itong Master Chaolong, siya pa talaga ‘yong nagbigay sa akin ng ganitong result.”
Though, of course, the early years were always the hardest. Even if the restaurant was located beside the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Master Chaolong Haus didn’t really plan on capturing the UST students as their target market at first.
Jimenez recalled, “Hindi nila alam ‘yong pagkain eh. Kapag pumapasok sila sa restaurant, sasabihin lang nila, ‘ay noodles,’ tapos aalis na sila.” But he knows by heart that once customers get a taste of their food, they will really find it delicious, so, he tried all possible ways to introduce their product to them.
“So, kailangan naming gumawa ng mga pakulo. Meron kaming promos, may mga free taste, ang dami naming ginawa para makilala lang and at least nagustuhan naman nila, hanggang sa kumalat na lang din na kwento-kwento, sinubukan nila, nagustuhan nila, so marami ng mga estudyante ang kumakain sa amin,” he added.
As a Palawan native, Jimenez describes Chaolong as their own version of Vietnam’s pho. “Since dumating ‘yong mga Vietnamese refugee sa Palawan noong 1970s, ito ‘yong itinuro sa amin na pagkain, and nakaugalian na namin na Chaolong ang itawag sa kanya.”
According to him, the reason why he chose to sell Chaolong was because he has so much trust in the said food. It was his favorite since elementary, and when he went to Manila to study, he would even ask his friends and relatives to bring him some whenever they visit.
“No’ng iniisip ko ‘yong negosyo, sabi ko, hindi lang naman siguro ako ‘yong laging nagke-crave sa Chaolong, so why not magtayo ng Chaolong dito sa Manila,” Jimenez said.
The restaurant was initially designed to serve Palaweños and satisfy their cravings, but they eventually succeeded in introducing Chaolong to a diverse set of customers in six years of doing business.
Secret to Success
According to Jimenez, the uniqueness of Chaolong is their secret to success. “Hindi siya iyong normal na pagkain, hindi siya ‘yong mabibili mo sa kanto-kanto, at hindi rin siya tipong mase-search mo sa Google kung paano lutuin.”
“Kapag natikman mo ‘yong handmade rice noodles namin, para ka nang binigyan ng murang ticket papuntang Palawan. Para kang nasa Palawan, para kang nasa Vietnam. Gano’n ‘yong dating,” he added.
The pandemic has also affected the business, but not to the point where they had to suspend operations. All thanks to Chaolong, orders still poured in even with the implementation of pandemic restrictions. “Kumbaga nabawasan lang ‘yong kita kasi wala kaming dine-in, limitado ang paglabas-labas ng mga tao no’ng pandemic pero hindi naman namin kinailangan magsara, tuluy-tuloy pa rin ang negosyo.”
But aside from their product, Jimenez believes his employees also play a huge role in the restaurant’s success. Before opening the España branch, the building where the first branch was originally located received a closure order and they were asked to move out eventually.
Jimenez didn’t have enough capital for relocation at that time, and having to reintroduce their product to new customers in a new place just two years after their launch would put them at a disadvantage. Because of these challenges, Jimenez almost considered closing the business for good. But his employees didn’t also want to give up. They all chipped in to find a new place and start anew.
“Very supportive sila and malaki tiwala nila sa produkto namin. So, sila mismo nag ambagan. Pinautang nila ako. Nakakatuwa kasi ako ‘yong nagpapasahod sa kanila, ako ang boss ng kumpanya pero sila ‘yong sumalo sa akin. Kaya malaking bagay ‘yong may maganda kayong samahan sa negosyo. ‘Di lang as a boss, pero iyong pagiging leader mismo, ‘yong pagiging kaibigan, malaking tulong ‘yon,” said Jimenez.
And of course, social media has also contributed to its success. The testimonies of customers online helped a lot in establishing the name of Master Chaolong Haus. “Social media talaga ang nagdala sa’min eh. Ito talaga ‘yong pinaka naging instumento. Dito kami nakilala ng mga vloggers, ng customers, ng tv shows. Dito lahat nagsimula.”
Jimenez started his first business when he was only 21 years old. He admitted he really didn’t have that much confidence in himself during those times.
“Ayun din siguro ang reason kung bakit nag fail ‘yong iba kong businesses. Siguro mahina pa ‘yong loob ko no’ng time na ‘yon. Nag rely ako sa ideas ng iba, kaysa sa sarili kong paniniwala,” he said.
And that’s one of the biggest lessons he learned–that he needs to trust himself and the process.
He might have experienced a lot of challenges but he remains grateful for all the things he’s been through. According to him, these failures motivated him to work harder and continue reaching his goals.
Jimenez also believes that struggles are part of every business, and that there is really no shortcut to success. “Hindi dahil nag negosyo ka, agad-agad eh magiging successful ka na. Kahit sinong pinakamagaling na tao, the best na tao, nagsisimula lahat sa failure. Mas patatatagin ka ng failure na ‘yon.”
He remembers his early years as an entrepreneur; when his business was already suffering from huge losses, then an employee took the money of their clients, and he had no other choice but to sell his car just to raise funds.
“Tipong umiiyak ka kasi naka kotse kang pumunta tapos babalik ka na naka tricycle na. Kasi ipapabarangay na ako ng mga pinagkakautangan ko sa negosyo, meron akong empleyado na itinakbo ang pera ng mga clients namin so kailangan kong bayaran lahat ‘yon. Wala akong choice, kailangan kong ibenta ‘yong sasakyan ko no’ng araw na ‘yon. ‘Yong sobrang mahal na mahal kong sasakyan, kailangan ko nang ibenta,” he recalled.
Those were really sad moments, but Jimenez is proud of himself for overcoming these struggles. He realized failures are essential to one’s growth. “Kailangan yakapin mo ‘yong failure, gawin mo siyang instrumento. At kapag nag fail ka, huwag kang tumigil kasi kapag tumigil ka, hanggang do’n ka na lang. Para mo na ring tinanggap na hindi mo na kaya.”
Expansion and Future Plans
When Jimenez got featured in a TV show, many expressed interest in trying their Chaolong. And that’s when he decided to open other branches in various locations. They first expanded in Palawan, and eventually offered franchising opportunities in Cavite, Isabela, Navotas, and Quezon City. Through these, they were able to help franchisees earn and introduce Chaolong to more and more customers.
Jimenez is planning to make D’ Master Chaolong Haus more accessible in various parts of the country. The opening of their branches in Ilocos, Zambales, and Laguna are also in the pipeline. While continuously working on their expansion plans, it is also his dream to be able to open a Chaolong Haus inside a mall and to introduce other products soon.
“Ayaw naming limitahan sa noodle soup lang ‘yong pagkain namin. Hangga’t maaari, kung ano ang produkto ng Palawan na pwedi naming ilagay, ilalagay namin. Also ‘yong mga pagkain ng Vietnam, especially yung coffee, so until now inaaral pa rin namin ang mga ‘yan and soon irerelease namin ang mga bagong pagkain namin,” he said.
With Jimenez’s persistence and hard work, D’ Master Chaolong Haus is set to grow further in the coming years.