A Newbie Resto that the Challenging Pandemic made strong

Born in November 2020, just a few months before COVID-19 swept the globe, Monalisa Kitchen in Marikina kept its business afloat by delivering good food to intimate family occasions during the pandemic.

From just 30 to 50 celebration packs that it delivered to intimate family gatherings, Monalisa had grown its business in two years and is now a full-blown restaurant that serves good Filipino comfort food to all types of clients.

Nilagang Beef Bulalo

During the pandemic, 70 percent of its revenues came from catering for intimate events; 20 percent from dine-in and 10 percent from food deliveries.  During the pandemic, she also gave free food to the frontliners.

Sinigang na Baboy and Sinigang na Hipon

We discovered that while there was a pandemic, people longed to mingle with family members.  Instead of having 100 packs before, we limited it to 20 or 30 packs so celebrations were either mother side or father side. Those intimate events defined us. So the intimate events kept us afloat during the pandemic, confided Maria Charissa Uanang-Josef, founder/CEO of Monalisa Kitchen at E. Dela Paz, Marikina.

She and her husband are corporate people, both are certified public accountants, who used their corporate networks at first in delivering food and eventually catering to intimate celebrations.

Three things she learned during the pandemic: a) be consistent (with your offerings, service and offering) and this would differentiate you from the rest; b) be resilient (since people could not go out during the pandemic, we delivered the same quality food to them) and c) care for your network (because they will bring the clients to you). She said she had a good support base.

Pork Binagoongan and Kare-kare


She hopes to expand her business by participating in the Wedding Expo to be held next month at the SMX Convention Center. She recalled that she just used to cater to birthdays and other special events, but now catering to weddings is something that really excites her.

We keep on improving. We will have more in our menu and of course, we will maintain our good quality service, which we are known for, she said.

Her bestsellers are: Beef Caldereta, Beef Kare-kare, Baked Tahong, Lumpiang Sariwa and Pork Sisig. She also offers pasta for merienda (an added meal Filipinos are notorious for).

“Our future plan is to expand on the catering business because we have a lot of institutional customers. I used to be with All Day before (of Villar group) while being a CPA. and my husband is also a CPA,” she enthused.

Chicken Cordon Blue and Pork Sisig

Monalisa offers its meaty delights at affordable prices such as Crispy Pork Binagoongan, Caldereta, Beef Bulalo, Kare-kare, Crispy Pork Sisig, and Crispy Pata. The portions are all good for sharing.

Just what kept the business going, while most other businesses closed during the pandemic, she explained that her “mantra was always tough times don’t last but tough people do. I knew the pandemic would end but I just did not know when. Maybe two or three years so I told myself I need to outlast the pandemic. My goal then was to just survive the pandemic. Most of the business then were dying which made opening a resto so hard,” she confided.

At the height of the pandemic, my mantra was tough time don’t last but tough people do. I knew the pandemic would end I just did not know when. Maybe two or three years so I told myself I need to outlast the pandemic. My goal then was just to survive the pandemic. Most of the businesses then were dying which made opening a resto so hard.

By Rose de la Cruz

Written by Village Connect

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