A tarp caught my eye located in the middle of Tiendesitas fronting C5.
Yes, it is back! The Tom Sawyer’s old fashioned krispy chicken.
I knew about it only because my husband is a Tom Sawyer baby. My husband had been telling us how delicious it was back in the 80’s. He used to go to their Greenhills branch back then where rich and middle class patronized it. Apart from chicken they serve variety of food, like Salisbury steak, burgers even desserts were on the menu list. He loved the idea that spaghetti was put on a sizzling plate. There was a feel of restaurant not a fast food.
It was really traffic then going to our private event, so my husband joked around that he wanted to re-route and go to Tom Sawyer’s instead. But of course, he wouldn’t do that. He knows what commitment is all about.
No doubt about it, right after the event, he did not let it pass for us to experience and share his love for it which I admit I did not grow up eating Tom Sawyer’s.
We were excited to taste it (despite we were full already coming from an event). I tell you, they really offer southern style fried chicken. We were not disappointed. According to RJ, they still cook the same way they did. Still the best among his memories.
Let me share with you the short story behind the comeback after 11 years.
H: Can you tell us a brief story when you first brought Tom Sawyer’s in the Philippines.
L: After developing the brand and studying the market, my dad and his group went to Beverly Hills, CA for investment. From there, my father said “I would rather stay in the Philippines and do my own fried chicken chain.” He got the rights for the Philippines and we started to operate in 1981. I can still remember during my birthdays, my primary years in Ateneo, my father used to bring platter boxes of Tom Sawyer’s chicken and all my classmates and the faculty enjoyed it.
H: What made you decide to have a comeback?
L: I lived in Southern California for 19 years and came back 3 years ago to study the market. I wanted to continue my father’s legacy because he put a lot of hard work into the brand.
Chef Eli Aurelio started San Francisco Steakhouse, Subarashi, Miyako, the first “eat all you can” tempura located in Hotel Aurelio in Roxas Blvd., then opened in Pasay Road and Quezon Ave. Currently he is focused on Aurelio’s Catering, Aurelio’s Roast Calf, and Eli’s Barbecue in Tagaytay which was also a primary test market for the brand.
H: When did you open and why Tiendesitas?
L: We opened Tuesday, November 18. I believe in family values. I chose Tiendesitas because the Ortigases are like family to me. The last Tom Sawyer’s Branch was in Greenhills and it just felt right that Tom Sawyer’s re-open at Tiendesitas which is also an Ortigas establishment. It is such a blessing.
H: How do you feel about re-opening Tom Sawyer’s and who is your target market?
L: I did a market test in the open night market in Greenhills last year. It was with mixed emotions that I opened….I remember feeling nostalgic to get a wiff of the familiar smell and watch how the chicken was prepared, at the same time a bit anxious about how it will be accepted in general.
From there we learned despite being gone for 11 years, changes in the population’s tastebuds, not to mention the presence of different fast food chains, there is still a place for Tom Sawyer’s.
I would like to think our market is for everyone who loves fried chicken. One thing I love about California is everyone is able to enjoy the same great food and this is what I want to adapt into the Philippine setting. Our prices are set so that everyone can enjoy what life has to offer….like Tom Sawyer’s Fried Chicken…
Competition is like playing golf, you play against yourself. Even if you do a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis, we wanted to and ended up with one good product and be recognized for it.
H: Are you seeing yourself opening another store(s) in the next couple of months?
L: 2-3 or more stores next year. I wanted to grow slowly make sure everything is stream lined, no rebound on the system. We have been gone for 11 years and the competition has changed dramatically. We came up with this prototype store and we’ll see the feedback from there to know what to serve again.
H: What made you decide to have prototype store?
L: The whole kitchen back in 1981 was really huge, everything we are doing right now is the “Kiss” mentality– I like to keep it simple. If I could maintain this mentality and keep on improving and have promotional items I hope it will be well received and accepted by the general public.
H: What is your mission?
L: To provide the same fried chicken that we used to have but not to compete, I am not here to monopolize but to be able to share good food with those who have faith in the brand.
Tom Sawyer’s located at Building A, Stall No. F&B- 1A
Tiendesitas Ortigas Avenue cor E. Rodriguez C5 Pasig