Meet the Man Behind One of the Biggest Multi-Brand Food Empires in Manila
Very few are fortunate enough to know early on just what they want to do in life. Eric Dee not only knew what he wanted to do at a young age—he was born into it.
Foodee Global Concepts, originally Food Link, has been around for the past three decades. It was started by Rikki and Beng Dee (Eric’s parents), through a little place on Pasay Road called Chin Chin. Its success led them to open Chin’s Express and Inihaw Express, which are now staples in every major mall food court. There was no stopping them from there. Casual dining options in the form of Crocodile Grille and Kai followed. Then, Foodee Global introduced its bet for a Filipino dining experience through Mesa.
All the while, since the ripe age of 13, Eric had been fully immersed in understanding the inner workings of a restaurant, even spending some time in the kitchens of some fast food joints. Because of this constant training, getting a steady foothold as president of the company, later on, was a natural progression.
With the success shared by all of Foodee’s brands, its next move was to look outside the country for exciting new things to introduce to the market. Within three years, they brought in Todd English Food Hall and related brands (Pound and Hook), Davide Oldani, Llaollao, and Tim Ho Wan. But bringing these in didn’t hinder the company from pushing its local concepts, even opening a California diner-inspired restaurant called Sunnies Cafe. By this time, its philosophy was clear: provide the city with options that are pleasantly indulgent, without the lavish price tag.
The seafood platter at Hook by Todd English
At present, Foodee has a total of 200 shops, with more underway. Amidst the long string of brands, Dee has donned another hat as a venture capitalist. Through the Ultimate Taste Test Pro, aspiring food-centric businesses are given the chance to show off their products. Winners are invested in, and
The very near future plans for Foodee involve a large scale food hall featuring the specialties of some well-known restaurants; a partnership between a local chef and Spanish restaurant group; and the biggest yet, a Mesa right smack in the center of West Hollywood, in Beverly Grove.
“My recommendation for people who want to open a restaurant? Don’t do it,” he says jokingly, hints of truth between the chuckles. “Only unless you really love it, and you have time for it, and you work hard to get back what you’ve spent.” That’s sound advice coming from one of the busiest and most successful people in the business. Best you take
This story was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Town&Country.