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From the ‘boards’ to the kitchen

Kathleen A. Llemit



There’s no mistaking why the Bible proclaims one of the 10 commandments as “Honor Thy Father and Mother.” The age-old wisdom is as important today as it was then, even more so for a millennial who heeded her father’s words and now reaps the benefits of being her own boss, owning six restaurants before the age of 30.

Daddy knows best

Jary Olivares was on her way to the United States to practice her medical degree in 2016. She was a graduate of Physical Therapy (PT) and had been practicing it for seven months at a known hospital in Makati when she decided to further her career by working in the US after passing the state board of Florida.

“My family is into medicine. A lot of them are doctors.  I guess I wanted to try it. If ever, I would have taken dermatology because I have allergies and I wanted to cure it. So I took PT as pre-med,” Jary shares.

PHYSICAL therapist-turned-restaurateur Jary Olivares.

From an all-girls high school, she went to Manila to take a business course. Her dad, ever the influencer, told her a nugget of wisdom she never forgot: one does not have to take a business course to be a businessman. So, she shifted to PT.

“I took up PT because we really thought PT was being a masahista. I thought if I’m not going to push through with medicine, I’ll put up a spa. I was interviewed by the dean and I told her that story. I got lectured and was told that being a PT doesn’t mean we’re going to end up being a masseuse. When I got in, I had to study all the nerves from head to foot. I was overwhelmed, but I thought I had to finish something. So I did,” she recalls.

She and her cousins, including her younger brother who is taking up medicine, were planning to put up a hospital in the future. When she was a kid, Jary wrote that she wanted to be doctor because of her family and because her mother was a dentist.

Crepes and bingsu at Jeju Bingsu.

A different path, however, lay for the obedient daughter. As she was preparing to try her luck as a PT practitioner abroad, her dad would constantly tell her to reconsider.

“If you want a better life, do business,” he would repeatedly tell her. She listened.

In May of the same year with the seed capital a gift from her parents, she opened up WGM Cafe and Pizzeria. Jary can still remember how stressed she was and almost had an allergy attack when they first opened the branch in Pacita, Laguna. The first three months were difficult because she had to man the cashier and, at the same time, oversee the buying of supplies.

“My mom helps me, also my family. My dad helps in decision-making. He is my mentor,” Jary said.

She trusts her parents because at one point in their lives, they handled their own businesses. Her mom used to own franchises of a popular bakeshop chain while her dad used to operate video rental shops, where she used to hang out as a kid. He now has a business leasing spaces. In fact, she rents space from her dad for her restaurants.

Dreaming on

To people, it might seem Jary was sidelined from pursuing her profession, but for her, it was a revelation of sorts – a reminder of an old love.

She finds doing business more exciting, the restaurateur confesses. Jary looks back at how she had always been enterprising as a kid. She sold text cards, ice candies and gulaman during summers. Running a business has been worthwhile, she adds.

“I get to enjoy the challenge. It’s not a burden. Of course there’s stress. You handle people including demanding and unruly customers.  But it’s worth it. This is the right field for me, not medicine. In med, you’re always studying. It’s like you don’t have a life,” Jary explains.

Banchan and fresh cuts.

At 27, Jary opened her first cafe and restaurant. She soon added one more branch in Biñan with her hard-earned money. The following two years would see her open another one in Cabuyao; set up her own brand of the popular samgyupsal eat-all-you-can concept called Oppa Samgyupsal, and a dessert shop called Jeju Bingsu.

All six restaurants are located in the towns of Pacita, Cabuyao and Biñan in Laguna.

Jary felt validated when Oppa Samgyupsal was named Top Choice Authentic Korean Cuisine Restaurant in Laguna by Smart Business Entrepreneur Magazine last year. In March this year.
WGM Cafe and Pizzeria was named the Best Trendy Cafe Shop by the Golden Globe Annual Awards for Business Excellence in Laguna.

What’s next for Jary? She hopes to venture into franchising her concepts. For the meantime, she can relax a little and reap the rewards of listening to her dad’s sound advice.

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