Happy Ongpauco-Tiu came from a family of restaurateurs. Her parents started notable concept restaurants like Barrio Fiesta, Bakahan at Manukan, and Isdaan. Now the person behind her own company, the Happy Concept Group houses brands such as Pamana, Tsokolateria, and World Topps. 

As Ongpauco-Tiu strives to keep her businesses afloat amid the COVID-19, she decided to innovate her private dining concept instead of running the risk of her businesses ceasing operations in this crisis. How? Through contactless catering. 

What’s the current state of your business? Is it declining or progressing?

Out of my 14 branches, I have five operating plus my catering business is also open. Yes, slowly I can see that people are having the confidence to go out again and have small events among family and friends. 

How did you come up with the idea of contactless catering?

At the onset of the pandemic, it’s the catering industry that was most affected. With restaurants, we have takeout and deliveries to bank on but with catering, all events completely stopped. So, I thought if we can deliver for the restaurant, why not deliver a whole do-it-yourself private dining experience—complete with setup, food, and tutorial video to teach our clients how to prepare the whole thing. We are currently applying this across all brands.

How does it work? And how can you ensure that the dining experience remains the same?

Through the tutorial video, they are able to replicate our styling and arrange their buffet and tablescapes accordingly. As for food, we deliver all of it in chafing dishes and what they simply have to do is put it on the table. The challenges that come along with it is how the clients handle our things and accessories. Of course, because [we’re not handling it since] they are all dropped off, the rate of breakage is higher.

Do you see your business continuing this initiative moving forward?

Our customers are very happy and satisfied. As long as we are in this situation, we will continue to do so as it’s a good way to provide jobs for my staff.

How do you plan to improve your service during and after the crisis?

Now that we are in general community quarantine, we also do a setup where my team would be in complete personal protective equipment and follow all protocols. We leave during the actual event so it’s still contactless then come back to clean and pick up after. Another option is full service, as some clients still opt for this. Here, our team also follows protocols to ensure the safety of our clients and their own as well.