While most students are doing thesis to comply with the requirements for a college degree, this young entrepreneur turned hers into a business.
Celine Tabia says her thesis has become a diner called Chiquitos, which caters to students passing along Laong Laan and Tolentino Streets near University of Sto. Tomas in Manila.
“Chiquitos was still a thesis in 2009. I started out the business in 2010 while finishing school at UST. My mom and dad helped me pull it through. Mom used to take orders while Dad washed the dishes and kitchen stuff. Our household help did the cooking. We used to operate a 10-seat capacity in our first branch in Asturias. It ran for two years,” she says.
Tabia says she did a thesis in compliance with her BS Commerce Degree, Major in Entrepreneurship.
Chiquitos was named after her late grandfather who was fondly called Quito and her pet Chi.
The diner’s main offerings are chicken chops—small deep-fried cuts of chicken breast topped with choice sauce from a select list of proprietary sauces, all crafted by Tabia herself.
She says meal choices come and go but the main attractions continue to be the chicken chops, hand-pulled beef and a select roster of student meal paired with drinks starting at an affordable P70 per meal.
After Chiquitos’ first branch was closed because of the renovation works on the building that used to house the diner, Tabia used her earnings to bring back Chiquitos at a better spot along Tolentino Street, now bigger with a 50-seat capacity.
With her boyfriend as a business partner, they also set out to open another branch of Chiquitos at a busy nook along Laong Laan Street.
“We did this so as to cater to the student crowd frequenting the area. But as I see it, the sales were sort of divided on both branches. Nevertheless, both branches are doing well especially during the school season,” she says.
The Tolentino branch can rake in as much as P25,000 in sales on a good day, she discloses.
A middle child, the second from a brood of four, Tabia has never felt the so called “middle-child syndrome” because of the love and attention her parents lavishly give her and her siblings.
With support from her parents, she still does most of the meal preparations at home like meat marination and sauce making.
Her entrepreneurial skills first manifested when she was still a high school student at St. Scholastica’s College where she used to peddle small cute notebooks to schoolmates.
“I bought those cute notebooks from National Bookstore at P2 each and sold them for P10 apiece to my classmates. Back then I thought that was a good price since the notebooks were really pretty,” she says.
In college, she dabbled in selling ladies apparel and opened a online store she fondly calls AntiFashion, where she sells her own creations. Collaborating with a dressmaker in Taytay, Tabia came up with a unique line of ladies’ wearables.
The shop now is an amalgamation of apparel imports from Bangok and personal designs of Tabia.
“For me, Chiquitos is a work I love but AntiFashion is the play part that I like,” she says.
Tabia won first prize for the Next Gen Entrepreneur Award during the 27th Franchising Expo in July 2017.