Sunday, May 31, 2009

‘Health is wealth’ takes on whole new meaning

By Karen Lapitan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:17:00 05/31/2009

Filed Under: Food, Health, Economy and Business and Finance, Family
Most Read

LOS BAÑOS, LAGUNA – Health buffs are in for a treat when they swing by a new dining place here.

Herb Republic, which opened on April 22 in time for Earth Day, is a restaurant concerned not only with the food it serves, but also the health and lifestyle of its patrons.

Owned by the Pantua brothers – Herbert, 40, and Rainer, 33 – the restaurant also maintains its own poultry and mini farm to ensure that only organic and natural ingredients are used in the dishes they serve.

From beverages to the main course, Herb Republic offers nothing but all-organic ingredients.

No alcohol

Alcoholic beverages are not offered in the restaurant since the owners believe that there are healthier options available.

“In coming up with this business, we primarily considered the wellness of the customers since both of us [brothers] are interested in eating ‘green’ food items,” Herbert says.

The idea of putting up a restaurant with a twist started in the latter part of 2008. The planning phase continues to this day, even after the restaurant has already opened to the public.

“Planning is still ongoing since we are not yet done in developing the restaurant area, as well as the things that we can offer to potential customers,” Herbert explains. “We also want people to realize that healthy eating does not always have to be expensive.”

He also wants to shatter the notion that “green” food items are only for the well-off since most restaurants offering such dishes serve them at high prices.

“At Herb Republic, that negative notion is debunked,” Herbert says.

For only P50 to P200, he adds, one can have a healthy meal.

The Pantua brothers refuse to disclose the amount of capital they have raised to start the business, claiming that there are more important things than the money they have spent in putting up the restaurant.

“The time and effort we have been devoting to this business are priceless,” Rainer tells the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

According to Herbert, the business, “is actually a collective effort.”

“Other members of the family are contributing their time and ideas [to help the business grow],” Herbert says. “We want to encourage our customers to do the same.”

Green chicken

The Herb Republic owners are still developing the one-hectare property where the restaurant is located.

A few meters from the restaurant, is the brothers’ poultry facility where they tend to their “green chicken.”

“What we serve here are purely organic chicken,” says Herbert. “It means that each serving of chicken dish in our restaurant is guaranteed healthy since there are no artificial or antibiotic supplements given to the chicken.”

Each chicken is also guaranteed fresh since what they serve are only slaughtered that same day.

The main challenge in putting up and maintaining this kind of business is how to introduce the idea of eating healthy to potential customers.

Health buffs are not only their main targets, according to the brothers.

“Everyone can try eating here so they can appreciate the importance of living a healthy lifestyle,” says Herbert.

Apart from serving up healthy food, the owners of Herb Republic also plan to offer their customers modules and informal lectures on organic farming to raise their awareness.

We are aiming for sustainability here, says Rainer. “It would be interesting if the restaurant goers would learn how to do organic farming themselves.”

Herb Republic is located in Barangay Maahas, Los Baños, Laguna, 62 kilometers south of Manila.

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