With the number of Cebuanos who dine out growing fast, the Max’s Group, Inc. believes the Cebu market is ready for its upscale American restaurant Maple.
Maple serves American comfort food and its dishes are inspired by South American flavors which carry a lot of spices, said Bernadette Lee, chief operating officer of the Pancake House Group.
She added that Maple Cebu dishes are the same as those served in the Manila branches as they haven’t changed anything in the menu.
Since the restaurant caters to an affluent and upper middle class clientele, Pancake House Group marketing director Ruby R. Bautista said Ayala Center Cebu was the appropriate choice of location for the first Maple branch outside of Manila.
Maple, which opened in Cebu last month, serves breakfast beginning at 7 a.m. It is operated by Pancake House, which manages restaurants like Pancake House, Le Coeur de France, Yellow Cab, Dencio’s, and Kabisera and was recently acquired by Max’s Group, Inc. It is located at the ground floor of Ayala Cebu’s The Terraces.
Lee said the restaurant’s name was inspired by the maple syrup, which is the springboard of a high end pancake house.
Their group, which already operates the Pancake House chain, decided to create a more upscale restaurant and named it Maple, explained Bautista.
The Pancake House and Maple menus, however, only have one thing in common and that is pancakes, Lee cited, adding 95 percent of the dishes are different. Bautista said a lot of Maple’s dishes are flavored with the maple syrup.
Since Maple is a new concept in Cebu, people are flocking to the restaurant in droves.
“We realize this will normalize after a few months. Our patrons love our food. This city is growing closer to our heart and we really want to make this work for Cebu,” added Lee.
If the market can sustain a second location, Lee said they may open another branch in the nearby island of Mactan.
There are, however, no plans yet for a Maple outlet in another part of the country.
“We like to keep Maple as exclusive as possible. It caters to a very select market and we’re keeping it quite small,” she pointed out, adding they’re concentrating on growing the other restaurants in the chain such as Max’s, YellowCab, and Pancake House in international locations.
Maple bestsellers include the dinner roast, prime rib tapa, spaetzle Jambalaya, eggs Benedict, Maple salad, and pancakes.
In Manila, there are only three Maple outlets, said Lee. The first one was opened at the San Antonio Plaza Arcade inside the exclusive community Forbes Park in Makati City back in 2012. The two others are in the Shangri-la Plaza Mall and CommerCenter in Alabang.
According to Lee, the number of dining establishments operated by Max’s Group Inc. after acquiring the Pancake House Group is now close to 500, making it the biggest casual dining company in the country.
Maple’s breakfast food that is served all day includes pancakes, Belgian waffles, and French toast. In its pasta list are: Spaetzle, farfelle, linguine, and agli olio. It also serves soups, salads, burgers as well as club and ciabatta sandwiches.
For the main course, there’s salmon served with pasta and vegetables, pan-seared crab cakes, fish tacos, fried or grilled chicken, baby back ribs, rib tapa, and chicken steak.
Diners can choose to order their wines by the glass or bottle.
Desserts can either be apple pie, skillet-baked chocolate cookie, sundae, or bread pudding.
Bigby’s Cafe and Restaurant features new dishes and brings back old favorites as it opens at a more visible location on the second level of The Terraces in Ayala Center Cebu.
Although smaller, the new spot beside BonChon Chicken provides better access to guests and can operate for longer hours because it’s no longer inside the mall, explained Henrik Yu, marketing manager of Bigby’s Quality Food, Inc.
He said the restaurant is bringing back the classic dishes it offered but later removed from the menu when it first opened at Ayala Cebu back in 1998, such as the seafood kebab as well as some salads and sandwiches and pasta.
Bigby’s bestsellers among others are still the ribs, which they gather all effort to get from suppliers in Cebu and other areas, fajitas and steaks.
“Our ribs are very choice cuts and you get only four pieces of such from one pig. We also get from suppliers in Cagayan de Oro,” Yu added.
Another favorite of diners – the Kimmy Chunky Stew – was introduced during Father’s Day in 1999 and remains among Bigby’s bestsellers.
Bigby’s sinuglaw – a dish made of raw fish and grilled pork belly soaked in acids like vinegar and kalamansi juice and seasoned with herbs and spices – is special. It has distinctive seasonings – such as the tabon-tabon and biasong (local lime) that are available only in Cagayan de Oro – that provide the dish an added zing.
If you’re into desserts, try the Titanic Treat, an assortment of about 30 scoops of ice cream and various toppings. Better still, if you can eat this monster of a dessert in five minutes or less, you won’t need to pay for it.
With so many restaurants cropping up all over Cebu, Bigby’s continues to be popular because of its reasonable price and big servings, cited Yu.
Also, he added, Bigby’s international menu has gained a reputation for being comfort food that one wants to eat all the time.
According to Yu, possible new sites for Bigby’s are IT Park and the South Road Properties (SRP).