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Iloilo restaurant finds niche in Cebu

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

From left, Andrea Ivy Dy, Charcoal Boy Escario franchisee, Dr. Jean Rafanan Dy, CCTN47 President Nonito Limchua, Vice Rector Seminario Mayor Rev. Fr. Jose Adonis Aquino, Atty. Dara Acusar of Divina Law Office and Charcoal Boy President Jeffrey Luke Martinez.

A restaurant that originated in Iloilo has found its niche in Cebu.

Charcoal Boy Grilled and Oysters opened on February 15 its fourth outlet in Metro Cebu, less than two years after its founders decided to try their luck in the country’s second largest metropolitan area.

Its unique selling proposition? Fresh oysters from Aklan and Capiz, the seafood capital of the Philippines.

Jeffrey Luke Martinez, president of Charcoal Boy operator CBMP Food Corporation, said they started bringing in two boxes of fresh oysters, each box containing about 40 kilos, for their first outlet in Cebu located at the Mahogany Place in Mabolo, Cebu City.

That was in the third quarter of 2017. As of February 15, 2019, less than two years later, Martinez said they now bring in an average of 15 boxes of fresh oysters from Panay every other day to serve the requirements of four restaurants, one company-owned and three franchised outlets.

Martinez said they decided to venture into Cebu after observing, during a vacation in 2016, that there were only a few restaurants that serve oysters in Cebu.

“We noticed that there are no oysters here and walang store na nagse-serve ng Ilonggo flavor (no restaurant serves Ilonggo dishes). So we thought it would be a great opportunity to open a store here,” Martinez said in a press conference shortly before the inauguration of the fourth outlet.

Back in Iloilo, they were hard-pressed because of stiff competition. Iloilo teems with restaurants serving oysters and other seafood.

“Just like here (in Cebu), there’s lechon every corner. In Iloilo, there are oysters every corner, every street. If you also serve oysters, there is nothing special about you,” he said.

The restaurant started operations as Charcoal Boy Grilled and Oysters Corporation in Iloilo in 2015. Two years later, in 2017, Martinez said they decided to shut down their two outlets there and move to Cebu.

Charcoal Boy started in Cebu with a restaurant at Mahogany Place in June 2017.

Their first three months of operations were marked with difficulties. Supply chain management was a major challenge.

Martinez said they would ship two boxes of oysters from Panay one day and throw all these the next day, because their restaurant was new and customers were few.

They had to experiment with various processes until they were able to establish a system that works.

Two more restaurants, both franchises, were opened in 2018. One is in Mactan Newtown in Lapu-Lapu City and another is in Parkmall, Mandaue City.

From left, CBMP Food Corporation President Jeffrey Luke Martinez and Charcoal Boy franchisees Jean Dy and Andrea Ivy Dy field questions from the media on February 15, 2019. (Ventures Cebu)

The fourth outlet, owned by franchisee Andrea Ivy Dy and her mother Jean Dy, is at M2 Building, Escario St., Cebu City.

Charcoal Boy outlets serve oysters in five varieties: baked oysters with cheese and garlic, baked hot chili oysters, baked rockefeller oysters with spinach, crispy fried oysters, and steamed oysters.

The restaurant also serves a variety of grilled seafood, chicken, pork and fish, with prices ranging from P92 to P380 per meal. Each dish comes with unlimited rice and a glass of iced tea. (Ventures Cebu)

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