Before setting up shop in Antipolo, Escobar handled accounts for an advertising agency, while Wong worked for various start-ups. It was this set-up that inspired them to begin working together to start their own business.
After pooling their resources—including years worth of savings they could have used for their wedding—the couple eventually acquired an affordable spot at the second floor of the Okinari Arcade Building near the Ynares Center and used it to start a cafe.
And then there’s the branding of Sulok. In Antipolo, where cafes have the tendency to overpromise and be too overly formal, Sulok is the resident odd ball. On its Facebook page, the cafe is presented like an actual human being; an at-times cheeky, at-times cheesy persona managed by Escobar himself to converse with netizens and drive up online engagement. Meanwhile, customers who come to the cafe are not called “ma’am or sir.” Instead, they are addressed with ‘’pare, tito, tita,” or pretty much any affectionate term commonly used in place of someone else’s name. In nearly everything that has to do with the Sulok brand, there is a touch of casualness, a lack of pretension fitting for a place that seeks to be a comfort zone. And it has become just that for a lot of people.
But it’s not just the ambiance that’s getting glowing reviews; the food has also been getting a measure of positive feedback. Developed with the help of Chef Janine Tolentino—a family friend of Wong—the menu features items that complement various facets of the establishment’s identity. For example, the café serves pasta dishes flavored with the likes of malunggay and the combined forces of tuyo and mushroom, which, intended or not, mirror Sulok’s modest yet stylish character.
Other dishes echo the cafe’s desire to be a casual crowd pleaser. These include a hearty bowl of adobo flakes, and a spicy yet creamy serving of chili poppers. Sulok’s coffee choices meanwhile exhibit the refined taste of its founders. The Café Antonio, for instance, is a smooth mix of coffee and milk; it’s got character but it’s not overwhelming.
Fittingly, this is the best way to describe this business. Coffee shop regulars will find something familiar in the small but blossoming enterprise but they will also find something unusual. It is odd enough to get attention but not eccentric enough to alienate a substantial amount of potential consumers. And because of this, so far it’s doing well—despite the things that its owners would say about it.”
Franchise Fee: P600,000
Franchise Term: 6 years
Floor Area Requirement: 50sqm to 70sqm
To know more, please send an email to: [email protected] or contact 09988669601 or 09177095182.