ENTREPRENEUR Gila Salvador has realized that online orders would not be enough to sustain her business and banking on dine-in with bigger staffing and electricity consumption would also be ineffective.
The empty MadCafé now has a chance to survive as Salvador transformed its parking space into a pop-up drive-thru to make ordering more convenient for customers who prefer to enjoy their food and drinks at home or in the office.
The café offers customers their favorites – from Filipino comfort food to pasta dishes, milk tea, coffee blends, pastries, frozen meals – under one roof.
Salvador set out to implement her new business model, creating the cashier and bar kiosks, transforming the study area into a pop-up bar, and producing the graphic design, signages, and menu to visually show how it will work.
A walkie-talkie and speaker allow the staff to communicate from the bar.
Salvador thought of the drive-thru concept last June when dining options had been opened, figuring out a way to keep her restaurant afloat amid the coronavirus pandemic and support her employees.
Salvador said during the Zoom interview her new business model offers mostly drinks, but frozen foods are also up for grabs.
She eyes to put up drive-thru-only cafés around Metro Manila to deliver the convenience that consumers require nowadays. “We decided to do the drive-thru until December to survive,” she said, urging consumers to order and drop by.
“MadCafé is a comfortable restaurant where customers used to hang out with their family, friends, and loved ones and order any cravings they like… We want to do it with our drive-thru,” she added.
It only took three days to build the plan because Salvador is also into construction.
In Congressional Avenue, which has about 5,000 car traffic, the restaurant is able to capture one percent of that market per day.
Open for franchising, the original franchise cost of each 5×14 meter-big kiosk is P4.5 million, but the company now offers it at only P3 million as it eyes to create more of this.
Salvador said this will give people who are into food and beverage business an opportunity to try again, and a crisis-proof business that will still operate even during quarantine.
However, once the company reaches its target of around five drive-thru outlets, it will revert to the original franchise cost.
The franchise includes construction, equipment, staff, manpower, training and management, among others.
“Overall, we are still in a good position as a company,” Salvador said, despite the health crisis affecting sales.
For Salvador, operating a business during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is “absolutely crazy in a way that it has been a shocker to all of us but especially to business owners.”
“Try to get up on your own and figure things out because no one can really help you.
Therefore, you have to help yourself,” she advised.
Salvador said other branches are opening soon which enables her to keep the staff who will now man these new drive-thru outlets.
“The drive-thru has helped us a lot in terms of our salaries, rental fees, and utility bills.
This will help us survive until the end of the year,” she said.
The company is also developing its e-commerce website.
Not knowing how long the pandemic will last, Salvador emphasizes that entrepreneurs need to adapt, expand their mindset, view things from a different angle, and not be afraid to try new things.
When one gets exhausted, get some rest but never stop, she said.