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SEE-KEE-HOR CAFE & HOSTEL: From Hospitality Worker to Hostel Owner
Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario

15 Success Tips from Jerry Del Rosario, Owner

The Philippines offers great opportunities for those with ideas, passion and drive.  With a growing Philippine Hospitality Industry, which is set to expand in the next 5 years, we wanted to get insights on how ‘workers’ could get to the next-level in their careers and ultimately become owners, with a spotlight on SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel, Siquijor. 

We sat down with Jerry Del Rosario, who used his 22+ years of work experience and skills to progress from Hospitality Worker to Hostel Owner.  RANGGO and the Your Hospitality Hub Team have been watching Jerry since his days in Boracay; when he was part of the launch team at Zuzuni Boutique Hotel and went on to run the hotel restaurant, La Cozina.  Now we are so honored to get his insights, as he has just opened his own hostel and restaurant in Siquijor Island. 

Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario of SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel, Siquijor
Jerry Del Rosario
Owner of See-Kee-Hor Cafe & Restaurant.
Photo by Jerry’s Business Partner, Rosa Carmeliza

Siquijor, also known as ‘The Island of Fire’, is legendary.  Known for is mystical charm, Siquijor is cradled between Cebu to the north, Negros to the west and Bohol to the northeast, and is believed to have risen from the depths of the ocean following  a powerful storm and massive earthquake.

1. Work To Learn.

Ranggo

What was your first hospitality position?

Jerry

I started out as a Purchaser at Kamayan Restaurant, Nayong Pilipino, in Pasay.  It was 1997 and I was 18. I was an assistant to the owner; in charge of buying things for the restaurant.   Nayong Pilipino is a village-type theme park, displaying replicas of some of the Philippines natural wonders and heritage houses. 

I met a lot of people at Kamayan Restaurant, and grew a good Hospitality network.  From there I joined The LJC Group of Restaurants where I further enhanced my skills, before moving on to work on Cruise Ships in 2005 as a Beverage Attendant, until 2013. 

Between one of my Cruise contracts I helped with the opening of Geni Psinakis’s Zuzuni Boutique Hotel in Boracay, and its restaurant La Cozina.  After 8 years on Cruises I was ready to come home and took on full-time management work at several restaurants owned by Geni Psinakis.   I took a break and lived in Shanghai for a few years and then moved back to Boracay where I worked freelance.

2. Have A Peg

Ranggo

If you were asked to name one place where you have stayed or eaten, and where you had the best standard of service from the staff, where would it be?

Jerry

Los Indios Bravos, in Boracay. They have really good food and service, and they are always consistent with both.  The wait staff are well-trained and accommodating.  When it was first opened it was also a training kitchen with culinary students completing their courses with on-the-job training in a real, working restaurant.  So it was teaching the importance of consistency to these trainee chefs too.

  • Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario
  • Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario
  • Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario
  • Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario
  • Ranggo Magazine features Jerry Del Rosario

3. Be Courageous

Ranggo

You’ve just opened a hostel and restaurant, what made you decide to jump from being an employee to being a business owner?

Jerry

I’ve always wanted my own restaurant business, since I was working on a cruise ship.  I didn’t have enough courage, and I did not meet the right people to work with, until now.  Plus I also enjoyed my work.

The jump to business owner began about 1 year ago.  I was working in Boracay as a freelancer; co-ordinating weddings for mostly Chinese clients, scuba diving guide and photography, just before the island was closed to tourists for 6 months.   I realised that there is really no right or wrong time, and the feasibility and opportunity is always there.  So I just grabbed it and we now have SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel

4. Do Your Research

Ranggo

What steps did you take in opening your own business?

Jerry

I’d been hearing good things about Siquijor, so when Boracay closed I visited there.  I found a consultancy job in Siquijor and spent 3 months learning about the island. First I had to check the feasibility of the place, not just for the business but for myself. I had to determine if I wanted to be in Siquijor.

5. Location. Location. Location.

Ranggo

Do you think those 3 months were essential for you to find the right location and get to know the need?

Jerry

Absolutely.  I saw that there was big potential to the island, without hurting the budget so much. Dealing with the LGU here is easy and I got a lot of help from the Siquijor Tourism Board as well.  I talked to close friends about my ideas and a few decided to join me.  Then careful planning came in.

I have just recently opened SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel.

6. Know What You’re Looking For

Ranggo

So why this particular spot?

Jerry

I chose Siquijor because it’s a nice and peaceful place; easy roads and forests.  Coming from Boracay, and having travelled, I can say that Siquijor is totally different from most tourist spots. It’s clean, peaceful and there’s almost zero crime.

7. Be ECO-Friendly

Ranggo

Was there any particular theme or style that you wanted in your business?

Jerry

We wanted to have a business that is more eco-friendly and where we could use local materials. We like the look and style and want to offer the experience of staying in rooms made using traditional materials.

8. Expect Problems

Ranggo

Did you face any problems opening this hostel?

Jerry

Getting the manpower to build SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel was difficult, and all the unforeseen building costs.  Our second difficulty was getting all the backup documents we needed to apply for permits.

9. OPM; Other People’s Money

Ranggo

How did you come up with the capital to open your own business? Did you save your own money, find people to invest, both? How did you pitch this idea to your partners?

Jerry

May pera ako ng konti lang then I asked people na kilala ko (I was turned down a couple of times).  But these millennials nakita nila ang opportunity kaya sumali sila sakin. Pinadalahan ko sila ng business proposal at financial plan. (I had a bit of money and I asked people I knew to invest as well. I was turned down a couple of times. But some Millennials saw the opportunity of the business and joined in. I sent them a business proposal for SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel, and a financial plan).

10. It’s The Social Media Age

Ranggo

What is your marketing strategy to spread awareness and get guests to book in to your hostel and visit your restaurant?

Jerry

We’ve only recently opened SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel, but we’ve started out by inviting and attracting friends of friends to visit.  Of course we’ve also put it out on social media because, you have to admit, that’s just how it is now. We have an active Facebook and Instagram Page and we share our guests’ posts and reviews. Even though our Social Media accounts are new, our posts have already attracted tourists visiting Siquijor to the come to the restaurant.

11. Have A Unique Advantage

Ranggo

What makes your hostel different from the other accommodation in Siquijor?

Jerry

SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel is more off the tourist spot than San Juan. So our guests can properly relax after exploring this beautiful island, and after visiting the local bars. We’re currently setting up a garden allotment too, so we can offer guests the freshest produce in the island when they dine at the cafe.

12. Don’t Wait

Ranggo

What advice can you give to industry workers who want to start their own business?

Jerry

Start early because again there is no right time. You might be taken aback with some bumps along the way, but everyone has to go through that.

13. The Filipino Advantage

Ranggo

What do you think makes Filipino hospitality different from the rest of the world?

Jerry

I think one must really just come and be around Filipinos to know. We’re all just being Filipinos and people have said good things about us, but for us that’s just how we move and breathe every day.

14. Get Proper Training

Ranggo

What do you think Philippine hospitality staff get wrong sometimes?

Jerry

I think it’s often that they just don’t have enough training, or get ongoing training and mentoring to enhance their skills.  But I think some people also just don’t let themselves evolve during the course of their career.

15. Apply Your Knowledge

Ranggo

You mentioned growing your hospitality network and building your skills.  What Top 5 tips would you give to people wanting to get ahead in the Hospitality Industry?

Jerry

1. Become familiar sa lahat ng aspeto sa Hospitality (become familiar with all aspects in hospitality)

2. Magfocus sa isang department napalagay mo ay pinakamahalaga sa hospitality (Focus on one department that you think is most important in hospitality)

3. Be friendly to everyone

4. Learn from advice ng mga galing sa hospitality (Learn from advice from people in the hospitality industry)

5. Ask advice from friends in hospitality and apply all the appropriate strategies to your business

SEE-KEE-HOR Cafe & Hostel

Located at Purok Caimito, Brgy. Tambisan, San Juan, Siquijor 6227

You may contact them at Seekeehor@gmail.com or at 09174850952.  Or, for more information or to make a reservation visit, Facebook.com/skhcafeandhostel

View Comment (1)
  • Congratulations Jerry! I remember you from HAL and I am thrilled to see you take on this new venture!

    Best to you!

    Fritzie

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