Quirky Baguio restaurant catches Google's attention
BAGUIO, Philippines – Poleen Carla Rosito was buying onions at the Baguio Market when she heard the good news. And nobody’s crying now.
Yagam Restaurant, which Rosito is managing, was chosen among the 3 winners of the Google Business Group (GBG) Stories Search this year.
The others are Virtualahan (a Davao-based call center training “full-time parents, unemployed youth, and people who have less access to jobs because of their medical condition, disabilities or former life” to outsource virtual assistant services to different nonprofits, social enterprises and NGOs) and riliv.com (an Indonesian personal virtual counseling service with professional psychologists and psychiatrists in tow). Khalti.com, a digital wallet for instant, secure and hassle-free online payments in Nepal, is the People’s Choice awardee.
Yagam and the other winners got an all-expense paid trip to visit the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. While there, they will receive mentoring sessions from GBG experts, meet with other passionate GBG members and community influencers.
When Rosito and her siblings started Yagam Restaurant (named after one of her daughters) in 2014, they were thinking mostly of showcasing unheralded Cordillera cuisine. Other than pinikpikan (singed chicken stew) and etag (smoked pork), Yagam is also serving pinuneg (blood sausage), pising (taro leaves) binungor (spicy vegetable stew with snails from Kalinga). There are also rice cakes from Kalinga called the inanchila and kiniwar.
Carla, who was once a cultural activist, also staged mini-concerts, poetry readings and exhibits in Yagam. With friends like artists Rocky Cajigan, Faye Marino, Dumay Solinggay, Vince Navarro and others, they turned Yagam into another culture hub in Baguio. They also opened a mini-library and a craft store.
The Yagam restaurant is an old house whose basement was converted into a dormitory (mostly for Japanese interns and friends of the Cordillera Green Network), with the restaurant at the top.
And then the coffee got in the way. Carla was also thinking of using the restaurant to market mostly Arabica coffee from the towns of Tublay, Acop, Kapangan, Kibungan, and Buguias in Benguet. She converted the sidehouse into the storage and roasting for coffee. CGN, of which Carla is an officer, also started a coffee plantation in Tublay town after Typhoon Pepeng hit the region hard in 2012.
Carla also started attending GBG seminars in Baguio. “The GBG event I attended explained kung paano puwedeng gamitin yung mga Google products sa business not only sa marketing pero sa paggawa and pag-fix ng data ng business, also sa paggamit sa Google for communication (The GBG event I attended explained how we could use Google products in business, not only for marketing but also for creating and organizing data, and using Google for communication),” Carla said.
“Google, through the community program Google Business Group, aims to help entrepreneurs to connect, be informed and be inspired through learning events which the Google Business Group community organize,” said Vincent Tabor, GBG Manager in Baguio.
“Ms Carla applied what she learned in our events which includes making your business visible online through Google My Business,” Tabor added.
“Since we started using Google my Business and getting on Google Map through the help of GBG Baguio, the cafe experienced 100% increase in sales. Malaki talaga difference nung nag-open kami 2014 and nung pumasok kami sa Google in 2015 (There is a big difference from when we opened in 2014 and when we entered Google in 2015),” Carla said.
Good reviews from TripAdvisor also helped Yagam.
Its relatively remote location (at Gibraltar behind Wright Park) also became its advantage, turning it into an ideal dating hub and a place to stay away from it all. Also her quirky friends would organize weird parties like a Bollywood-themed party for friends departing for India.
Carla decided to join the GBG Stories Search and made it into the Top 24 all over the world. Last month, Yagam’s story made it to the Top 9 and last Sunday, September 17, while Carla was buying onions, Yagam made it to the top.
“Right now we launched new coffee concoctions and create website for selling roasted coffee beans online which is being started na, we will push social media advertising pa with the help of GBG Baguio,” Carla said. – Rappler.com
Planning to try Yagam? Let us take you there for less.