This October, Cravings is celebrating their 25th year in the business. In this article, founders Annie and Badjie relate how it grew from a single takeaway counter along Katipunan to 36 outlets.
L-R: Susana “Annie” Pascual-Guerrero and Marinela “Badjie” Guerrero-Trinidad
1. Cravings is a restaurant borne out of the love for cooking of three generations of women. The Cravings Group of Companies was put up by mother and daughter tandem: Susana “Annie” Pascual-Guerrero and Marinela “Badjie” Guerrero-Trinidad. When asked where she got her kitchen prowess, Badjie, chief executive officer of Cravings, remembers fondly, “I learned from my mom (Annie). I would always watch her cook.” Annie, Badjie’s mom and founder of Cravings, also had the same tale to say, “I learned from my mom. She was a teacher in Home Economics. She teaches in three universities and then she was doing cooking lessons at home during the weekend.”
2. A volume order for a 1987 election convinced Annie and Badjie to put up Cravings. “My parents’ businesses are construction and real estate. My mom and I were just home bakers. But we pulled off a volume order for an election day back in 1987 for 8,000 people!,” Badjie shared. Her mom added, “that was packed lunch but even so, that’s food for 8,000 people. We did that with no (commercial) facilities and equipment. That was what convinced us to open Cravings.”
3. Cravings wasn’t really intended to become a dine-in restaurant. Back in 1988, it had two parts. Badjie recalls “one side was the bakery, where we baked croissants, French bread, and cakes. The other one was a gourmet take out. The idea was: mothers can drop by and and buy food like menudo and roast pork asado by half-gallon. But then the students came and then they started eating in the parking lot! And then my mom said, Nagkakalat yata sila tapos gumagamit ng disposable! So she said why don’t we set up chairs and tables? So from five tables, we kept on adding. We always had a hard hat promotion since we were forever under construction.”
4. Cravings’ first outlet is in the same space occupied by CCA - Cravings along Katipunan. But back then, it was an old adobe house with a long driveway. It used to be a parking place for construction equipment—the Guerrero family’s other business.
5. Cravings started out with around P300,000 for a capital. Their first major investment was a Eurofour oven worth P250,000.
6. Cravings didn’t have a business plan when they started.
7. Badjie had a list of probable business names, including Orange Tree or Olive Tree. But they ended up choosing Cravings because it was the most appropriate for a bakeshop.
8. Lea Salonga and Kris Aquino were among the young college crowd who used to frequent Cravings in its early days. “I remember our helpers were always excited when Kris is here because her bodyguards are good-looking. She would always buy Jeweled Cream for her mom,” Badjie said.
9. From among the early orders, the mocha praline was the best seller. Early patrons would also recall Cravings’ famous mango bars, cupcakes, and ensaymada.
10. In the first menu, meals were around P30, coffee is P8, and cheesecake is P24.
A Copy of Cravings' Old Menu
11. Their best-selling blueberry cheesecake is still sold in the current menu. "It’s the exact same recipe," Badjie assured.
12. Early patrons would recall Badjie as the young girl behind the cashier. “We only had a log book then, hand-written lang talaga lahat,”she remembered.
13. Badjie and Annie never dreamed Cravings would grow into a group and still stand 25 years later. According to them, their only goal was to be as popular as the Sweet Haven bakeshop in Katipunan.
14. In 1990, Annie and Badjie opened Cravings’ first branch in Wilson, Greenhills.
15. To Annie: customer comes first. “Pag Sunday ayaw kong tinetext ako. But if it’s a customer complaint, I will accept anytime of the day!”
16. CCA (Center for Culinary Arts), established by Cravings in 1996, is the first formal culinary school in the Philippines. The school opened after Cravings put up the Orange Place Hostel. Badjie relates “we had a Canadian guest from Alberta. He asked us where Filipinos study when they want to be a chef. So we told him we don’t go to formal school. Then he invited us to visit their school and he helped us to set it up. We interviewed prospective employers, what skills are they looking for in chefs.”
17. Most people think that studying culinary arts is expensive. But CCA offers a short but intensive commercial cookery program for their scholars during Saturdays and Sundays from 8 to 5 PM. Annie personally designed the syllabus with 400 hours intensive classroom training and 200 hours on-the-job training in Cravings restaurants.
18. CCA is also the first culinary school in the country to include Green Chefmanship in the curriculum. An eco-warrior and President of Zero Waste Philippines, Inc., Annie made it her personal crusade to teach students the value of using just the right amount of ingredients, reducing kitchen waste, saving energy while cooking or preparing food, and using minimal packaging.
19. An eco-center with a Bee Apiary, Butterfly Sanctuary, Herb Garden, and eco-products can be found atop CCA Katipunan. Here, the public can buy organic honey, broom from PET bottles, and craft products.
Annie: Use pandan plant to drive away cockroaches from your homes.
20. The Cravings Group was recently awarded with an ISO 14001 Certification. They are the first in the Philippines to be recognized as the “greenest” in the hospitality industry.
21. For their 25th anniversary, The Cravings Group will hold “Throwback Cravings”. The stores will be dressed in 80s vibe and diners can avail of commemorative treats from the restaurant, including dishes that will be sold at its original 1980s price.
22. Commemorative pieces are available for Cravings’ loyal fans. From October 16 to November 16, “Silver Cravings” will also feature 250-peso silver plate dinners including an assortment of Cravings classics and a commemorative Cravings-branded Keepcup which will be given to single receipts of PhP 2,500 and up.
23. You may redeem freebies from The Cravings Group of restaurants as part of ClickTheCity Privileges. Privileges subscribers are entitled to get a free slice of cake of your choice at Cravings, a Free Lumpiang Hubad at C2 Classic Cuisine, and Free Malacañang Frozen Souffle from Casa Roces. Learn how to claim this treats in this link.
Claim Free Cake Using Privileges on ClickTheCity App
24. From a bakeshop cum restaurant in a construction driveway, The Cravings Group grew to 36 outlets including brands link C2 Classic Cuisine, TCB (The Coffee Beanery), Lombardi’s Authentic Italian, Wicked by Cravings. Apart from the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA, Manila), they also have Asian School for Hospitality Arts (ASHA), events venues C3 Events Place and Oceana, and hotels: The Orange Place and Seven Suites Hotel Observatory.
25. There’s a recipe to Cravings’ success. According to Annie, the ingredients are: blood, sweat, and tears. “Wala talagang short cut. Do everything. Preparation is everything,” she insisted.