100 Next-Era Leaders in Asia 2017-2018 -The region's best brightest, most promising-


CEO Lester Pimentel Ong

Message to young people
Start from a small step and don’t try to do something too big at the beginning. Founding a company means you will be the boss. You have the right to decide everything and have free time endlessly. Try to challenge the infinite possibilities.

I grew up in a Chinatown in the Philippines where everyone around me had their own business. Therefore, I thought I would start my own business in the future. I had been practicing martial arts since I was small, so I was blessed with opportunities to travel around other Asian countries to take part in competitions. When I traveled to Taiwan and Japan, I encountered restaurants that I had never seen in my country. I felt something at that time, but that feeling didn’t immediately lead to starting my own business.

I worked at the stock market after graduating from university. There, I learned what it was like to work for a big company and how a company is run. Through 1996, my stock market job was going well, but in 1997, when the currency crisis hit Asia, my salary declined drastically. I was married and had to support a child at that time. Then I remembered the restaurants I had seen when I had traveled overseas.

I opened a small stall in a department store, but it didn’t catch on at all because it was based on the restaurant I had seen abroad, which was completely new to Filipinos. Since there was no restaurant model that I could refer to in my country, I had to decide everything by myself, take actions and learn lessons from failures. I looked for a kind of food that Filipinos would like so that my shop would fit their taste and be successful. Finally, I found it: rice. Filipinos love to eat rice, eating it three times a day. That’s how I decided to serve fried rice at my shop. Taking Japanese teppanyaki as a cue, I grilled fried rice with meat and seafood on a griddle in front of customers, which was gradually accepted by Filipinos. As they eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner, our sales are always stable.

I have no ambition to make my company a big, worldwide franchise, but I always want to keep offering world-class, high-quality meals. At the moment, I plan to double the number of outlets by launching shops in Cebu and Mindanao islands within the next three years.

Company Profile

Franchising of fried rice shops