30 Jul Feature Article: Bigby’s Café and Restaurant – The Most Sought After Restaurant in Cagayan de Oro When it Comes to Delectable International Cuisines that Give Great Value to Your Money
Walk and look around Cagayan de Oro City’s restaurant lineup and what do you see? You’ll find some of the best Filipino menu and grill restaurants in the country and with little variety except for a few foreign restaurants. Now, you have the major concept of international cuisines from Bigby’s Café and Restaurant.
Bigby’s is one of the most famous restaurants to be established in the city, and it comes midway between fine dining and fast-casual eating.
The restaurant’s ambience is like an amalgamation between fine dining while giving you a homey-feel. When you enter the place, it’s like a different world. The restaurant is well-decorated with unique souvenir items collected from different parts of the world.
You can even find trivias about different countries written on their walls. The design of the establishment is very impressive and there’s none quite like it in the city.
How It All Began
The concept for something different in the line of international cuisines was conceptualized by Henrik Yu, Joanna Cris Lim-Yu, and their long-time friend Catherine Genabe. They not only wanted an international menu but also the restaurant atmosphere and ambience to go with it, like an adventure to another country. So on December 8, 1998, Bigby’s opened to much curiousity from Cagayanons, eventually drawing in many families, urban professionals (young and old), business people, and even youngsters and students to discover this new dining experience.
Three Heads are Often Better than One: Henrik Yu, Joanna Lim-Yu, and Catherine Genabe
You could say that Henrik’s story started at a young age when he began his training at his family’s businesses, but it goes way beyond that. Henrik, Joanna, and Catherine were actually classmates way back in their Kong Hua High School days. Even at this young age Catherine and Joanna loved to cook banana cakes, butter cakes, and carrot cakes to sell in school. The three would then go on to Ateneo de Manila University; Henrik finished Economics, Joanna finished under the interdisciplinary program with Business Management and Psychology, while Catherine finished Dentistry.
However, Catherine was soon drawn to enroll at the prestigious Center for Culinary Arts near the Ateneo, with Joanna following suit. They would become the pioneer graduates of that institution. Catherine would also go to the Culinary Institute of America and Kansas Institute of Baking while Joanna would attend Carpigiani Gelato University in Italy to learn how to make gelato ice cream and other desserts.
Ever since Henrik returned to CDO, and being the business-minded one and full of great ideas, he invited back the two to come home and then proposed that the three of them open a restaurant that should be different from the others in CDO.
It did take them quite some time to come up with a name that had to sound unique. It was Henrik who proposed that the name should evoke big servings from a big menu, but with not-so-big prices. Eventually the three settled upon Bigby’s. It’s a name that gets people thinking that it sounds familiar but could never pinpoint where they heard it before.
Catherine and Joanna handle things in the kitchen while Henrik takes care of the business side. Henrik is sort of the willing “taste tester” for any new dishes that the ladies come up with. Perhaps Henrik’s travels to other countries have shaped his taste buds. Triad friendships like this work great especially if you’ve served up one of the most well-known restaurants in Cagayan de Oro City.
We are not able to post pictures of Joanna Lim-Yu, and Catherine Genabe because they were not present during the time of interview.
The Overall Bigby’s Experience
Aside from serving international dishes, the general atmosphere that Bigby’s loves to project is “Fun Dining” and this shows in the “other worldly” wall decorations as well as the witty names given to some dishes that are served in “western portions” but at reasonable prices.
For instance, you’ll see a sword collection, a bell collection, a plate collection, a doll collection, a stamp collection, and an exchange student jacket with various decorative pins, all these coming from all over the world. The oak and antique wood furniture and wooden panels used adds to the “other worldly” ambience of the place.
Naturally the focus of the diner is their luscious dishes. All their dishes have either funny or creative names that will only give your taste buds more curiousity.
Their Taste Teasers (appetizers) have names like Dippy-doodle-doo (chicken strips with sauce) and Kamikaze Balls (prawn balls on stick).
Even their Salads are punned like Bermuda Triangle Salad, Zen High Salad, and Emperor Caesar’s Salad.
Their Sandwiches and Pasta dishes can be served either in “kid” sizes or adult sizes (with names like Raging Pasta, Super Duper, Dippy Doodle Doo, and Shrimply Divine).
The major favorite is from their Smokin’ Grill like the Boomerang Shrimps, Gold Medal Steak, and the famous Rack-A-Bye-Baby.
They also serve Food Trip Platters and Signature Dishes like the Belly Buster, Passion Fish, Tsunami Chops and Rack-A-Bye-Baby.
Their Desserts have already made a name for themselves, especially their Titanic Treat that looks like a miniature Mount Everest made of Ice Cream that has become an urban legend among Cagayanons.
One of the restaurant’s major achievements is being the grand champion for six years in the annual KUMBIRA Culinary Show, professional category, for 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Duly recognized by Go Negosyo (Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship), SM Malls, and Ayala Malls, the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce has also seen fit to give Bigby’s its Most Outstanding Business Enterprise Award. Bigby’s has also been featured in Yummy Magazine, Philippine Daily Inquirer, F&B Magazine, E&B Magazine, Good Housekeeping Magazine, Business World, Manila Bulletin, Food Magazine, and Masigasig Magazine.
Most recently, TripAdvisor Philippines awarded four restaurants in Cagayan de Oro its Certificate of Excellence. This excellence certificate is only given to restaurants that meet their excellence standards based on traveler and customer reviews. Two of them were Bigby’s and Missy Bon Bon, also owned by Henrik, Joanna, and Catherine.
More Branches and More Challenges
One of the feathers on the cap of Sir Henrik worth boasting about was when Bigby’s was invited by the management of Ayala Center Cebu to set up as one of the pioneering restaurants in the Ayala Entertainment Center. Bigby’s became such a big hit with Cebuanos that some thought that Bigby’s originated from Cebu and set up a branch in Cagayan de Oro. A second Bigby’s soon opened in SM City Cebu.
Today, there are Bigby’s branches in General Santos City (Robinsons), Bacolod City (Gaisano City Mall and SM Mall), and Davao City (Abreeza Mall and SM City). In Cagayan de Oro they have one each at SM City Mall and Ayala Centrio Mall.
In General Santos City, one of their first customers upon opening was Vice-Governor Jinkee Pacquiao.
Perhaps the biggest challenge that Henrik and his partners face when opening any branch is if people would go there to eat or if they would like your food. Another big challenge they face is handling the employees and making sure they do their utmost best.
Some Henrik Yu Quotes:
“In the service industry… we make sure that our customers are served properly, paspas, courteously, and then sakto ang gi hatag na produkto.”
“Success is not measured with the size of your wallet. Success means achieving your goals and becoming the best version of yourself.”
“I like to travel… That is one thing that has helped me get all these ideas.”
“Don’t get too involved in the competition and just focus on yourself.”
Promos and Upcoming Events
Presently they have a special tie-up with Ayala Cinemas wherein Bigby’s customers get free cinema tickets for certain orders. Bigby’s also offers special discounts for selected partner and tie-up establishments.
As early as September they will be offering their special “Bigby’s Homemade Christmas Ham.” This ham offering actually started last year and was such a hit that by November the ham inventory was sold out from advanced orders.
Mr. Henrik Yu is Inviting All Kagay-anons
Watching Sir Henrik inviting you to try out their restaurants should be more than enough reason not to have second thoughts visiting Bigby’s.