4 Ways Restaurants Get Filipinos to Line Up for Their Food


Let’s be honest here. We Filipinos are pretty fickle-minded a lot of the time and we’ve got quite the annoying tendency to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to restaurant trends.

Before even looking at a menu, our taste buds are already easily bribed by the allure of popularity and the satisfaction of being the first to try what’s cool.

Inventive restaurant owners are able to take advantage of this mentality. Some places will dig deep into their marketing (MarkEATing. Ha!) bag of tricks and pull out tactics and gimmicks to get YOU hyped about their offerings. With any luck, their efforts will snowball into actual visits, reviews (on looloo!), Instagram photos, you name it… and the cycle continues.

Here are four ways restaurants get people to line up (in sometimes massive hordes) for their food:

1. FREE FOOD… if you’re quick enough.

Freebies and giveaways are a no-brainer when it comes to wooing customers. A number of restaurants have taken it a step further by creating a limited demand for them. Restaurants like Yabu: House of Katsu and Magnum Manila Cafe are examples of places that have done this.


Source: Facebook.com

“Be one of the first XXX people to get in line and get free YYY” is a tried and tested formula to build early hype for a restaurant. It’s a tricky (and potentially risky) tactic, given that the place has to shoulder the expense of paying for several dozens of meals. For those that are able to pull it off though, it’s all made up for by the lifetime value of a returning satisfied customer.

2. Showbiz!

A tactic borrowed from more traditional marketing playbooks, celebrity endorsement is another effective, albeit expensive, gimmick used by restaurants.


Source: McDonald’s Philippines on Facebook

While it’s often the big fast-food brands like Greenwich or McDonald’s that are able to afford and make the most out of this advertising channel, we’ve also seen a number of celebrities and celebrity entrepreneurs leveraging their own popularity for their restaurants.

3. Introduce Timely/Trendy Food Items

McDo Twister Fries. The KFC Double Down. One thing they all have in common is that you can’t always get them! The reason behind the success of a lot of these items isn’t just that they’re good, it’s also that they’re rare in terms of when you can get them. Rarity = higher demand. They’re the rare Pokemon you don’t find just roaming around in tall grass all day.


Source: Facebook.com

One other thing restaurants do is serve trendy or time-specific items on their menus. Some examples include Wildflour’s croughnuts or Wrong Ramen’s Ramen Burger, both piggybacking on their popularity in the US. Sebastian’s “Matinong Boyfriend/Girlfriend” flavors, capitalizing on V-Day’s ooey-gooey mushy vibes, is another. Even short-lived gimmicks like Minion cupcakes had people talking when Despicable Me 2 hit theaters.

4. Be a Successful Foreign Franchise.

Okay, so technically, this one’s not really a tactic per se, but hey, it works. Remember when eating at IHOP was all the rage? Two hour lines for pancakes! Jamba Juice? Krispy Kreme? All of them were greeted by insane crowds when they opened. It seems the grass is greener in the land of red, white, and blue.

Foreign Restaurant Franchises in the Philippines

Other international franchises like Ramen Nagi and Todd English Food Hall are more recent examples of foreign franchise success. When it opens, good luck trying to get a table at Tim Ho Wan.

You might call it colonial mentality, or just simply hopping on the bandwagon of another brands’ popularity overseas. Whatever it is, Filipinos eat this stuff up! Literally.

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About Author

EJ dela Vega

You'll find EJ rummaging through refrigerators for unlabeled leftovers, earning him the nickname, "The Finisher." He's got a knack for magic tricks too, his best one being the ability to make food on his plate (or anyone else's for that matter) disappear in the blink of an eye. Too damn cheap to be picky, he once ate several slices of pizza doused in Robitussin... just because he can.


  1. I’ll see a FREE FOOD sign and I’m so totally in… lol… As for the international franchises, I think it boils down to novelty and quality… If dunkin donuts can make their donuts as good as j.co, I will have no problem paying the price…

    • Dunkin Donuts is what you call quality, Eudaimonia? No wonder I am seeing so many fat Filipinos. In the US almost 75% of the people are overweight or obese yet the rate of diabetes is far lower than in the Philippines. I believe in about five more years the Philippines might be ahead on obese and diabetes…

  2. Lol… from the headline I thought this was about stopping people from queue-jumping.

    • me too, but then when read all the hatred of Americans on here, I had to post my 2 peso also. lol MINE? MY p2? People suck.

  3. It’s not colonial mentality. It’s trying what’s new. Most people won’t return after the first try.

  4. Supporting Foreign products has always been bad for any economy, the only reason why foreign products can get so much better than local produce is that they get so much support from their own people first, they rise up to the international cartel and like what most countries do, when there’s a foreign product in town everyone can’t wait to try it.. The only reason why foreign products rise more than local produce is because of the support from the people who keep on buying their products. It’s colonial mentality, and the mentality that people from this country have that’s stopping our own produce from growing. We keep on thinking local produce isn’t good or not durable enough, how in the world would it get any better then without local support? O_o

  5. The Philippine people are resilant and as a foreign who has lived in four other countries aside from my native US, living in the Philippines is a pleasure of peace. Unfortunately you have ignorant individuals like Curt Foster who has nothing better to say. But, the world waits as the US continues to decline and eventually become bankrupt and a third world country while Asia rises. Then the Philippine people will have the last laugh and people like Curt Foster will be destitute and wondering how he will get his next meal. Of course, we are not the judge, but God sees all and hears all and only then will Curt Foster will look back and regret his comments here.

    • Jacky, did the schools in your part of the US teach English? Yes, I think all schools in the US teach English and you are a fake…

      • I’ve seen the world, experienced plenty, a different viewpoint which is lacking in the narrow minded American attitude. Less than 30% of Americans travel to other countries to experience the world. Yet, your own US government is treating you like a slave. I’m glad I no longer live in the US because I have more free to do what I want to do and not be told what to do. I’m a real person, not fake. Denial is the way of life in America.

        • your fake catholic pinoy pride is so pleasant to read. Such a good ambassador, go eat your fish heads and rice and trash your country and leave the conversations to the humans

      • Last time I checked I am real. You need to get out and see the world. Maybe your attitude will change.

    • too bad you’ll be long dead and hell will freeze over your mothers putang before that happens.

      • I’ve lived in four countries my eyes are open while the rest of Americans sleep and wait to used as slaves. Hey, did you hear, the economics are booming in Asia. In America, still in denial and in decline.

      • I’ve seen the world, experienced plenty, a different viewpoint which is lacking in the narrow minded American attitude. Less than 30% of Americans travel to other countries to experience the world. Yet, your own US government is treating you like a slave. I’m glad I no longer live in the US because I have more free to do what I want to do and not be told what to do.

      • I’ve seen the world, opened my eyes and know things that will make you wonder why you are American. You are not free and there is no freedom.

      • How am I supposed to speak? I’ve lived in five countries, my eyes have been opened to finding the truth. America is a dangerous country to live in. You’ll never see a fortune 500 CEO live in America because they know the truth. I wish more Americas would go out and see the world. Less than 35% of Americas travel outside the country. Yet, Americans think they are the best, which they are not. Everyone is good and equal, no one is better than anyone else.

  6. When I came to the Philippines in 2002 at 180cm and 70kgs I was one of the biggest. Now I see many ladies that weigh more than I do. Just look at the food in this article….it is not healthy. Too many Filipinos do not eat enough gulay but rather have a platter or two of rice with lots of meat.

  7. Charles Underwood on

    don’t quite understand the ethnic reference and the unnecessary “self-deprecation”. satisfying one’s palate is universal. you don’t need to be a filipino to buy into these generic marketing strategies. and yeah, i’m surprised that the blogger ‘wears’ his marketing hat in looloo

  8. This should have included the ultimate unli rice promo too… which is essentially a universal treat for pinoys… just a quick thought

  9. This article is so shallow I don’t know why it’s worth being posted as an article. There’s nothing being said here that you haven’t heard from stuck-up elitists making smug assumptions about “the society they’re forced to live in.” I think the author here is one who’s comfortable staying within his own like-minded group, and with his like-minded peers affirming each others similar views, he thinks he knows everything about others he didn’t even try to understand. Like what Charles Underwood posted here, these generic strategies apply to a lot of people around the world. And like what Ramon posted here, it’s more out of curiosity than colonial mentality. If anything, a good deal of Filipinos are more honest with their curiosity than some people. There are no in-depth observations in this article; just your usual glance-then-judge way of thinking.

  10. Seriously, this article offers nothing but shallow and even narrow observations. Has the author even gone around the world? If he has, then he should widen his scope of vision and make real observations without his bias limiting them. I have had the opportunities to go around, and I do not see how the author’s list applies to every and only Filipinos. Like Charles Underwood here said in his comment, these generic strategies have been applied on and worked for other people around the world. And as Ramon here said in his comment, the Filipinos try out international stuff more out of curiosity than out of colonial mentality. Just because Filipinos buy these stuff doesn’t mean they eat only this stuff. In fact, a much better explanation for seeing Filipinos eating foreign food when they go out is because they always eat Filipino food at home and want to eat something different. If anything, a good number of Filipinos are more honest and straightforward with their curiosity than some other people. There is nothing I have read on this article that offers any real insight This is nothing more
    than the same smug comments I read/hear from elitists who try too hard to be counter-culture
    and get to judge the rest of their society with their shallow and narrow interpretations.

  11. Magtanggol Dungo on

    IHOP. The worst pancakes ever. This is crap food that we sucked up cause it’s American. If you go to the US, you will see IHOP is for truckers and senior citizens. Pancake House all the way!