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Restaurant chain discovers the way to surviving the pandemic

In over two decades since opening its doors to serve diners with home-cooked Chinese cuisine, this restaurant relied on word-of-mouth to reach patrons. 

Patrick Sen, one of Mann Hann’s Board of Directors, handles the day-to-day operations of the Filipino-Chinese restaurant. 
The strategy is simple; if you serve quality food that constantly adapts to fit modern preferences, diners will come. And diners did and still do. 

But such move may be enough before something as disrupting as a pandemic happens. 

When in-store sales began to decline following the onset of COVID-19, Chinese grocery-turned-restaurant chain Mann Hann thought the best way to survive was to take the digital route: increase visibility, sustain orders, and connect to more customers. 

Patrick Sen, who serves as part of the brand’s Board of Directors, and his cousins who handle the day-to-day operations of Mann Hann, proposed the idea to the elder members of the family – the restaurant chain, after all, remains a family business. 

But the elder members had reservations and still preferred traditional marketing. Sen and his cousins highlighted the benefits of joining an online platform such as Grab in growing the brand’s sales, especially during challenging times.

In June 2020, Mann Hann, which currently has 22 branches, joined GrabFood. 

Did you know? Mann Hann started as a Chinese grocery in Pasig before it opened its first restaurant branch in Greenhills.
“Joining GrabFood has been really helpful to the business. The majority of our sales throughout the pandemic have actually come from GrabFood,” Sen shares, adding that the company has been able to revitalize its operations, enjoying a regular stream of orders every week and even double their usual deliveries on weekends. 

The restaurant reports deliveries through the app have grown by nearly 300 percent since joining the platform.

It has also widened its reach beyond its usual market. “Initially, a lot of our customers were from the Filipino-Chinese community. But with Grab, we’ve been able to capture a bigger audience as well,” Sen says. 

So how do the other family members take the shift now? They have no regrets, according to Sen. 

Sen says that taking extra steps to boost the brand, such as maximizing partnerships with platforms like Grab, has helped everyone remain optimistic about Mann Hann’s future. Establishing a digital presence, he adds, also enabled it to evolve. 

Some of Mann Hann’s best-selling menu items include (from left) Dim Sum (Taosi Spareribs, Siomai, Hakaw), Beef with Broccoli, Lechon Macau, Seafood Miki Bihon, Lumpiang Shanghai.
“Going digital with marketing exposure will definitely benefit any business nowadays, not just restaurants,” Sen observes.

Strengthening digital presence proves beneficial as government prohibited indoor and al fresco dine-ins again on July 31, and the National Capital Region reverts to ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) starting August 6. 

If it were up to the family (and perhaps all other food businesses), they want to go back to how things were prior to the pandemic, with proper adjustments, of course. But right now, they have to continue leveraging digital technology and adjusting to the situation as they serve diners.

Topics: Mann Hann , enhanced community quarantine , COVID-19 , Patrick Sen , GrabFood
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