JCI Makati’s Pandemic President Herbert Joey Garcia is an inbred businessman and a natural leader. Prior to his involvement in the JCI Philippines (JCIP) organization, he was a full-time entrepreneur who manages multiple brands under an empire he has built in the restaurant industry since the 90s. Such brands are Rai-Rai Ken or Rairaiken, Tokyo Joe, Oishi Batchoi, and Ramen Metro.
Playful and dynamic food concepts that primarily revolve around Japanese food and even its fusion with the familiar and well-loved Filipino cuisine. At present, Joey has grown into a marketing master and a strategic entrepreneur whose expertise range from franchising, restaurant, consultancy, and service-leadership in both business and organization. He is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Rairaiken Restaurant Group which consists of the four aforementioned brands which he conceptualized and developed. He is also the President and Senior Strategic Consultant for Titans Business Venture and Strived Executive Asia, respectively, enterprises whose primary objectives are to foster business development, innovation, and entrepreneurial training.
Joey is a proud alumnus of prestigious business schools like Ateneo De Manila University and Asian Institute of Management, from which he garnered the degrees in Master of Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneurial Development. On the non-business side, he is a servant-leader acting as the 2021 Immediate Past President of JCI Makati, and the 2021 National Director for Partnership and Sponsorship of JCI Philippines. Consequently, he then had no time to participate in NGOs nor to even consider knowing and learning about their specifics. Little did he know that joining one was that single step that keeps him from embarking on a totally different way of life.
Joey’s primary influencer and motivator is none other than his father, Mr. Benjamin “Benjie” Garcia or Chef Benjie-san as he is fondly called. Benjie started as a dishwasher in one of the most prominent yet humble Japanese eateries in Manila back in the day. As the trustworthy and diligent worker that he was, his employer decided to promote him as an assistant cook after some years. Eventually, Benjie’s innate giftedness in cooking manifested and caught the attention of his employer anew. In the early 70s, he was entrusted with a training and workshop trip to Tokyo, Japan that led him to his mastery of the Japanese cuisine.
Upon his return to Manila in the early 90s, Benjie established a small-time eatery that served the famous Filipino comfort food Tapsilog in one busy street in Makati. It was a humble carinderia patronized by both Filipino and Japanese customers of a nearby clubhouse, that gained loyal customers who could not get enough of its delicious offerings.
Over time, the said carinderia evolved into a ramen house serving hot bowls of fresh, hand-made noodles in rich broth. This carinderia is the namesake of Japan’s first ramen house in history—Rai-Rai Ken. Gradually, Rai-Rai Ken gained its own name not only in Manila, but also in the different localities in the islands of Luzon, Vizayas, and Mindanao, as a reputable authentic ramen house owned by a Filipino. From its foundation in 1993, Rai-Rai Ken in the beginning of the 21st century has grown into a chain of Japanese restaurants with no less than 50 branches nationwide.
The original Rai-Rai Ken or the “mother brand’’ birthed three more restaurant concepts namely Tokyo Joe, Oishi Batchoi, and Ramen Metro. Tokyo Joe showcases affordable yet authentic Japanese rice bowls that aim to cater to the younger market. Oishi Batchoi, on the other hand, is a fusion concept that experiments around the Filipinization of the typical Japanese staple food like ramen.
Lastly, Ramen Metro is a premium ramen house that primarily showcases a hip and modern take on the said Japanese comfort food. As of writing, Rai-Rai Ken is now a restaurant group consisting of these four uniquely-branded Japanese food concepts and one Japanese-themed hotel—the Takara Hotel and Events Place in San Pedro, Laguna.
Takara Hotel and Events Place fully operated in 2017 after a 3-year construction. It is a timeless modern-industrial masterpiece elegantly built at the heart of San Pedro City, Laguna; the first Japanese-inspired hotel and events venue in the said province. Takara has been a destination for momentous events like weddings, baptismals, debuts, and all other sorts of significant milestones and celebrations. JCI Philippines is no stranger to this eminent venue, because in December of 2020, Takara was the home of the first ever hybrid National Convention of the said organization. JCI Philippines’ NatCon 2020 was a huge success despite the unfamiliar and new normal approach towards the carrying out of the said national convention. Undoubtedly, Takara will remain to be a part of the unfamiliarly strange yet triumphant story of JCI Philippines in the year 2020.