External Relations - Ariel Del Rosario
Written by: Melania Antoszko and Daniela Nadeau
Photographed by: Levi Soprovich
As seen in the November 2019 issue of Lazy Faire magazine.
I love Filistix! You love Filistix! We all love Filistix!
Filistix has been a campus staple since 2011. After a controversial decision by Aramark to end their contract, Ariel and Roel (Co-founders of Filistix) were left in the dust. With no contract, they were stuck. Luckily, SUB was renewing their food contracts and Filistix moved into the basement. Since the new move, Filistix has continued to grow; they recently opened their newest location in downtown. Right off Jasper Avenue, the new sit-down restaurant is bright, modern and features brand new dishes.
This month, Lazy Faire sat down with Ariel, ASoB Bcom Alumni, to discuss his new entrepreneurial venture and successes and lessons in the business.
Filistix began as a tiny food truck on Rice Howard Way, in the summer of 2008. Shortly after, the restaurant opened its first location in CAB at UofA. After that, they expanded to Macewan and ECHA.
Why did you start Filistix?
My business partner and I have always been in the food industry. Throughout high school and university, we worked in restaurants to pay our bills. From there, we developed a passion for food and the food business. Roel was in the health sector and I was in the IT sector, and we always wanted to open something that was food related. So, we started with a food truck. We thought, let's introduce filipino food to augment street food in the city. We chose filipino food because it's our culture and what we knew best; it's flavours that we grew up with.
How did you develop the menu?
We developed all our recipes ourselves, but we had help from our parents and grandparents. We knew how to cook, but cooking filipino food is different. We knew the basics but we had to figure out how to execute the recipes quickly and at high volume.
How was the shift from UofA to the new location?
This location has always been a dream of ours. At first, we considered the quick service model, but we quickly realised that it wouldn’t work well in the downtown area in the evening. We took this as an opportunity to do dishes that we really wanted to do and to introduce more filipino food to the Edmonton downtown area. Our philosophy is that we are not traditional - we always put our own spin and put our twist on things.
What do you think sets Filistix apart?
What really sets us apart from any other food vendor on campus (or from any quick service style restaurant in the city) is that all of our recipes are made from scratch. We really respect all the traditional ingredients and flavour profiles of filipino cuisine.
After opening our downtown location, we really feel confident that we have a concept that can work anywhere because of that authenticity and that home style flavour and cooking methods.
What would you say to someone starting in the restaurant business?
Plan, plan and plan. Preparation is important. You'll always run into things that you are not prepared for. The more prepared you can be in your business model, in your planning the better. Your business plan needs to be solid. If you are going for funding, no matter what kind of startup or business, you want to get money from someone. Whether that be from your aunt or uncle, or the bank or an angel investor, you have to know your business inside and out. You need to know those details.
My advice to entrepreneurs is that you have to be super flexible in your model. You can't be rigid. Some things may not work and you'll have to adjust. Making mistakes is okay, until you start repeating them. That’s when businesses fail.
What is your approach to business? What has made you successful?
Our approach is very simple - work really really hard, as this is not an easy business. The restaurant business is a labour of love. We are super passionate about food and educating others on filipino cuisine. We’re not in the business to make money; you have to have a vision and stick with that vision as your driving force. You have to be resilient since you will encounter challenges everyday. You have to be able to put in the work, be resilient, and not give up.
How did you keep going through all the struggles of your business?
Determination and not willing to concede. Roel and I have a drive to succeed and never give up. We keep on making decisions that will make things better. We have run into so many obstacles; after our contract ended with Aramark, we were very distraught. Sometimes, luck is in your favor and you find that spot in the SUB basement.
How do you look back on Filistix’s history compared to where you are today?
It’s definitely been an interesting journey. From being on Rice Howard Way, Monday to Friday where people were asking if we sold french fries. We have run into every single situation that you can think of. It’s crazy to finally open up our dream place.