ANOTHER place to satisfy that food craving is now open to the public. This time, it is at the center-point of Deira, Dubai as Chef Roberto Gonzales and wife Maria Rosario Mercado-Gonzales opened a new branch of Agemono Restaurant last May 5 at Panorama Hotel, Deira.
It was back in 2005 when the couple opened their very first food venture in the emirates. The family business became a hit to Pinoys and some nationalities who fancy Japanese and Filipino cuisine; adding a perfect combination of delectable beverages and of course its warm hospitality. A perfect combination why customers keep on coming back for more.
Maria Rosario ‘’Rio’’ Mercado-Gonzales shares her thoughts.
Why did you call it “Agemono”?
When we were still starting, we only dreamt of a food kiosk to cater deep-fried dishes (Agemono) literally deep-fried dishes in Japanese / Nihongo). That’s how the name started. Fortunately, we were given the chance to start our 18-seater restaurant, so then we did not drop the name.
Why did you choose this location (Panorama Hotel) to be your next branch?
We did not really choose this location, it just came. We are just so blessed to have been offered this location. In fact, it took us a long time to scout a probable venue for our new branch. This spot is actually very strategic, and just a walk-away from Union Metro Station, Deira Bus Station and adjacent to Al Ghurair Mall.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
Well, it is never a secret. The main key to this endeavor is loving what you do. I always believe that both of us, as a couple is a combination; we compensate each other and share a common passion in the food business. Chef Roberto has experience in Kitchen Operations while I have my expertise in food and beverage management, and the administration side of it. Apart from that, we have this family atmosphere at work. We do care for our employees, as they do to us as well. Most of our staff have been with us for a long time since we started.
What can you advise to other kababayans who would want to start on a business on their own here in the UAE?
Before you venture on any business, you have to know first where your passion is. Apart from that you must be knowledgeable on whatever business you want to undertake. But most important of all, “Dapat malakas ang loob (strong-willed).” Venturing into a business is a great risk; and you have to be ready for it. In Agemono, it went smoothly because I think we are blessed to have good and trustworthy people. I think combining all of these, the passion, knowledge, sincerity, hard work and luck, any businessman can be successful. Adding to it, at every success, even at its peak, everyone should put their feet on the ground (be humble).
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From its humble beginnings, Chef Roberto and wife Rio have expanded branches from its very first location in Al Attar Mall in Karama, International City, in Al Quoz, and recently in Deira within a span of eight years. They will also to open soon in Mariah Mall Hamdan Street, Abu Dhabi.
With all the competition in the food business, Agemono stands tall from all the rest. The Gonzales couple has proven that even Pinoys, with all the necessary tools to success, can excel as entrepreneurs in the UAE. It had captured the needs of “good food, good ambience and quality service”. They might have endured the tests of time and been building a food dynasty of their own. But the couple keeps humility at heart, “In every success in life, one should keep your head up high, but always put your feet on the ground,” they added.