food is love. Love is food. These two words go together too well, but real-life couple and business partners, Erik Galvez and Joelle Yuvienco, brought the two even closer, literally and figuratively. Say hello to BeefX, a home to good burgers and witty foogot (Food Hugot).
BeefX was formerly known as “Big B Burgers”. The name change is timely as it signifies a rebirth, more appropriately highlighting the core of what Erik and Joelle are sharing with us, burgers with patties made from 50% beef and 50% of another ingredient (the X). This means being given the freedom to choose among 5 different patties: beef X spam, beef X longganisa, beef X bacon, beef X sisig, and beef X sausage and 3 different buns: regular, waffle and pizza, to sate your daily gastronomic cravings. When asked about the new name, Erik proved why BeefX is the ultimate foogot restaurant, “Hindi na kami `yung big boyfriend pero kami naman ang ex na babalik-balikan.”
It all began when Erik and Joelle were still studying in the University of the Philippines-Diliman (UP-Diliman). A year after they became a couple in 2012, they found themselves courageously jumping into selling food, delivering food to different tambayans and manning their own food stall within the university, juggling their business in between classes. What was initially done lightly to finance their dates, “Para meron kaming pang-date”, Joelle humorously shared, became something serious. They decided to venture into putting up their own restaurant, but not without knowing what specific food to sell. At that time, the hype was on cupcakes and pastries, but none of them knew how to bake, so they thought of selling something they knew better, and these were burgers. One of the challenges they faced was how to stand out in the food industry. Joelle’s mom suggested that they try mixing beef with bacon. Adhering to her advice, they realized what they were looking for. They finally found their niche. From there, they established their menu, adding other patties into it, making it BEEFed up. Erik made his own special sauce that adds flavor to their burgers, an ingredient that also sets them apart from other burger joints. After things were put into place, they opened their first branch in Maginhawa in 2014, stressing that they couldn’t be more thankful to their friends because they were their first supporters, not letting them down each time Joelle calls them and says, “Guys, try ninyo niluto ni Erik”. Eventually their family and friends also established linkages for them and the business grew.
Something impossible to miss out on BeefX is their foogot. It is so eye-catching and attention grabbing that even the hugot movie of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, shown last April, 2017, noticed it and included the restaurant as one of the movie’s locations. Foogot is a combination of food and hugot. It’s that playful use of words and tagos sa puso lines you associate with food, all connecting them to hardships and real-life experiences. “We really didn’t want to brand ourselves as a foogot burger place, but then eventually the customers were the ones who called us that, maybe because of the signs and how the staff interacted with them, the “burger of promises”, and we owned it in some ways.”, explained Joelle. The history of their foogot dates back to when they were just starting. While managing their university stall, they found themselves injecting them every so often. Before they knew how hard it was to eat in the stalls, so they would give their customers gloves and say, “O, because we glove you, guys”. It was eventually carried over to their first branch, mostly because people had a lot of questions and they wanted to explain it through funny and witty signs, so that while they wait for their burgers, they can read them. The idea of having unique signages paid off as people started talking about them, and posting their foogot signages on social media. A simple note on self-service can be tied with deeper emotions by saying, “Dahil minsan kailangan mo pagsilbihan ang sarili muna: Self-service” or informing the customer that they can give tips for the waiters can be done by putting a jar with a “Tip, tip, hooray!” sign. Joelle believes that the whole hugot culture is strong because people identify with emotions, and they were just at the right time to ride on it.
Even their menus have foogot, based from what Erik and Joelle came up with while playfully throwing lines at each other or by rephrasing some lines from their friends. They have a bestseller called “Poutine ng ina” which can be in a regular size “mo” or upgraded to “more”, “Poutine ng ina mo” or “Poutine ng ina more”. Basically, it is poutine, french fries with cheese and gravy, but did you see what they did there? They also have a “PG meal” for those looking for more affordable meals, coined from the Filipino PG (patay gutom) term when you can eat anything and everything on a budget. They also have the “Awesomesauce” which are names of condiments used as puns in songs, “I’d ketchup grenade for you” or “Mustard been love, but it’s over now”. They also play with their own name such as using the “X” for some of their features “XXXtra Cheese” means additional cheese while “Burger staX” is additional patties. Even a choice in drinks gives certain hugot. Drinks can be chosen from the “pink potion with feelings”, “blue potion with emotion” and “mangga gayuma” (mango flavor). Each drink is served with a “performance”, and by “performance”, we’ll let you find this one out for yourselves.
Being business partners and a real-life couple is probably one of the ultimate, as millennials put it, #relationshipgoals, but Erik and Joelle seem to agree that mixing business with an intimate relationship is not one of the best ideas. Though there’s a tinge of discouragement, they explained that it is something they won’t advice for new couples to venture into right away, or maybe not at all. They cited their own experiences as an example. Early into the business, they would have some disagreements as they had different perspectives on the business side. Joelle had a “slowly but surely” attitude while Erik believed in “high-risk, high reward”. But the differences surely brought out something positive. They both shared how they have learned to compromise. Basically, the essence of relationships, may it be about love or business. Though compromise in the business aspect meant bending and giving in based on calculated risks, Joelle still described its effects on their relationship as “Pampatibay. We had to overcome a lot. We had to separate boyfriend-girlfriend from work, and understand each other.”
Interestingly, some of their inspiration came from “drunken thoughts” or those thoughts you have either while you’re inebriated or when you just got back to being sober. Their waffle burger used to be called “Waffle Hangovurger” because of Erik’s idea, “Ano bang masarap kainin pagkatapos uminom at masakit ang ulo mo?”
When asked about challenges, Joelle and Erik smiled, as if to say there have been a lot, but what’s important was how they overcame them. They honestly shared that they have learned many life lessons, some were easily learned and some, unfortunately, were not. “I’m happy with what we did, but I hope we could’ve minimized our learning experiences”, Joelle explained. “But it’s also good to make mistakes. It hurts, but how else will you learn and how else will it stick to you? Fail hard and rise fast,” she added.
Text- Dane Raymundo
Photography – M Espeña