SURVIVING THE CRISIS. Nonki owner Ligaya Arong-Machida says the shift to a healthier Cebuano lifestyle and employees’ willingness to deliver orders door-to-door helped Nonki survive the effects of the closure. the pandemic. / KATLENE CACHO-LAUREJAS
EVEN in the absence of Japanese tourists, its main market, the chain of authentic Japanese restaurants Nonki continues to record better sales performance even at the height of the pandemic and is now planning to add more branches in the Visayas region. -Mindanao.
In an interview, Ligaya Arong-Machida said her catering company was very lucky to be able to keep the jobs of its 250 employees, even at the height of the pandemic, while meeting the growing demand for healthier food options. .
“We were all surprised by the great interest of Cebuano diners in Japanese cuisine. Nonki became more in demand during the height of the pandemic because people shifted to a healthier lifestyle. Stranded foreign tourists have also become our regular customers, making up for the absence of our Japanese regulars,” said Machida, adding that they have also seen the same trend at other Nonki branches across Visayas and Mindanao.
Recently, Machida opened the 10th branch of Nonki Japanese Restaurant in the basement of JCenter Mall in Mandaue City.
Another branch is set to open in December this year inside the first Nustar Resort and Casino at South Road Properties in Cebu City.
“We have already signed a contract with the Nustar team for this expansion,” Machida said.
Other branches of Nonki are located at AS Fortuna St., Mandaue City, Mactan Tropical Center in Lapu-Lapu City, JPark Hotel branch, Nonki Teppanyaki inside JCenter Mall, SM City Cebu, One Pavilion Mall in Banawa, Davao City, Iloilo City and Bohol.
Machida hinted that other branches would open soon following invitations to open branches in other parts of the country, including Metro Manila, but the female entrepreneur said she would rather focus on development of the brand’s presence in the Visayas and Mindanao.
“We have invitations to open in Tacloban, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro and Boracay,” she said.
Surviving the effect of the pandemic
Although the food industry has faced several challenges due to the shutdowns, Machida said her employees are working full time to continue the restaurant’s operations even in the digital space.
Since indoor dining was limited, some kitchen staff and servers volunteered to deliver orders booked online.
“Everyone has really gone the extra mile to help the restaurant through the crisis. It’s also one of the reasons we’re still here in the business,” Machida said.
With restrictions easing and the economy fully opening up, Machida is optimistic sales would return to pre-pandemic levels.
“We have developed new markets in two years. We have made ourselves present in the digital space, which means that our customers can now easily reach us. We have implemented outdoor dining and launched other innovations,” she said.
Machida added that she also anticipates the return of foreign tourists to Cebu, especially the Japanese.