The Great Gamble is quickly becoming a popular foodie choice in La Union's Great Northwest Travel Stop and Viewing Deck. Here's a quick look at the man behind the seafood roll joint and how it all began.
How did you come up with Great Gamble? Tell us about your beginnings.
The name is an homage for everyone who took a chance to be uprooted in the city and gamble on the provincial area. The concept is also close to my heart since our family business deals in exporting crabmeat. I used to be in the operations side of our family business. Now, I’m their customer.
What were your biggest inspirations/influences? Why?
Our inspiration concept-wise are those restaurants and diners that serve seafood rolls in the US. It’s a huge market there, but has yet to catch up locally since most Filipinos prefer rice meals over sandwiches and pastas.
What made you decide to leave Manila and open shop in La Union?
In the beginning, we were just selling out of our room at Veronica’s Lodge. Honestly, even though sales were not as great at that time, I would say that the setup at Veronica’s had more character, being a bit of a hole in the wall joint. It was cute, but of course, we had to outgrow it if we were to stay afloat.
What made me decide to leave Manila for La Union is surf. If there wasn’t any surf, I would have opened a shop in Manila.
How are you working with the local community here?
Well, I only have a small team since the shop is barely 12 square meters big. 3 out of 4 staff are from La Union so majority are locals. I also fully disclose my sales and pay the right taxes. It’s now up to the local government to do what’s right with what I rightfully paid them (haha). I believe generating employment and paying the right taxes are one of the many tangible ways of helping the local community.
What have been the biggest challenges of operating in a surf town?
Biggest challenge of operating in a surf town is the seasonality. In other countries, most shops shut down during winter / off season since it’s practical and it cuts their losses. Not sure if that’s viable here especially if you want to retain your good employees and sustain the momentum of the brand.
How do you source your ingredients?
Our seafood comes from Cebu. So it gets shipped Cebu to Clark, then we have someone load it in the bus on the way here to La Union. Our buns are from Masa Bakery. Our spices and flavours are from the local market and distributor.
Could you tell us what a typical day is like for you?
Typical day. Check surf. Make the dogs pee / play. Hang out at the shop. Afternoon Nap. Afternoon Surf. Check out the shop. Sleep.
Some days, I cook for the staff :)
What are your future plans for Great Gamble?
Sell more buns. :)