Edgar Sia II: The Man Behind Mang Inasal
Sia's first taste of running a business was when he was 20 years old. It was at the Four-Season Hotel, followed by Mister Labada, a Laundromat, then Injap Color Express, a photo developing shop. All these are based in Iloilo. Then he cooked up the idea of operating Mang Inasal, the specialty of which is grilled chicken. It started in 2003 when small town lad Edgar Sia II, then a 26-year-old college dropout, grabbed a tiny spot in the parking lot of a mall, the site of an upcoming food hall. As a frequent customer of McDonald's and KFC, Sia knew what he'd been missing in the fast-food scene: Filipino-style street fare served in a restaurant-type setting. Before long customers were lining up outside Mang Inasal as word spread quickly through Iloilo City about Sia's new eatery. Its charcoal-grilled chicken served with rice wrapped in a banana leaf wasn't like anything on the menus of McDonald's( MCD - news - people ), KFC or even Jollibee, the local burger chain. The flavors were distinctively Filipino, as was the earthy décor with wooden tables, handmade paper lamps and walls painted in orange, green and yellow. "We really wanted to create a new category in this business, one that wasn't influenced by American food," says Sia, 34, who's often referred to by his nickname, Injap. It's a winning recipe; Mang Inasal's affordable concoctions aimed at Filipino taste buds has made it the country's third-largest fast food chain after Jollibee and Chowking, both owned by fellow lister Tony Tan Caktiong, whose expanding food empire has made him a billionaire. Sia's eight-year-old barbecue chain, with 380 outlets, has even overtaken McDonald's. And it has lately put him on the road to riches. Last October Jollibee, in a nod to its upstart rival, scooped up 70% of Mang Inasal for $68 million, valuing the outfit at nearly $100 million. The deal earned Sia a spot among the Philippines' wealthiest for the first time this year. With...
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