As it turns 55, Lydia's Lechon gets a makeover

Angelo G. Garcia

Posted at Jul 03 2019 05:50 AM

Lydia De Roca, founder of Lydia's Lechon. Photo by author

MANILA -- Reaching more than 50 years in the restaurant industry is a huge achievement. This considering how competitive the food scene is. Today, the turnover is quick and brutal for new concepts. But established brands have higher chances of surviving despite an “old” image. 

Lydia's Lechon is one such “old” brand. The lechon (roast pig) restaurant chain is turning 55 years old this year. It's an impressive feat for a brand that started as a small stall selling lechon on the streets of Baclaran in Paranaque City.

Today, the chain has 25 restaurants all over Metro Manila. It is one of, if not the biggest lechon restaurant in the country. 

Lydia De Roca, founder of Lydia's Lechon, said her entry into the lechon business was "unexpected," crediting her success to “sikap at tiyaga."

"Hindi ko akalain na ang pagsusumikap kong ito ay gaganda, magiging succesful dahil sa mga naisip kong strategy sa buhay,” De Roca said. 

The woman behind the brand, whom many fondly call “Nanay Lydia,” started as a lechon vendor in Baclaran. Her success is not only attributed to her perseverance but also to her innovations in serving lechon. 

The classic Lydia's lechon. Photo by author

“Before ang specialty ko nung 1983, boneless lechon with paella. Deboned 'yan at stuffed with seafood paella. Awa ng Diyos naging successful 'yan ang marami parati ang umo-order,” she recalled. 

The brand became known when five-star hotels started ordering lechon from her. This introduced Lydia's Lechon to various markets. 

Now, at 72 years old, she is still working in the restaurant, at their flagship store in Baclaran. To this day, she still chops lechon. 

“Seventy two years old, 55 years nagtadtad ng lechon,” she quipped. 

However, the business is now in the hands of her children. As the years go by, Lydia's Lechon is still a hit among diners in Metro Manila. And because modern diners require a different type of service, the brand is also evolving with the times. 

Lydia's Lechon recently started renovating its restaurants starting with its branch along Marcos Highway in Marikina City. 

Lydia's Lechon Marikina branch gets a makeover with quirky neon lights and clean and modern interiors. Handout

Following a more modern look, the brand wants to appeal to the younger and modern Filipino diner, but at the same time, still staying true to the brand Pinoys have come to love. 

The canteen or “turo-turo” style is still the brand concept along with serving lechon. But the brand is also introducing new products like the Pinoy Classic Bowls. It's a meal in a bowl, main dish served with rice. 

Lydia's Lechon introduces Pinoy Classic Bowls. Photo by author

Some of these include the pinakbet and pork barbecue classic bowl, lechon sisig classic bowl, kare-kare classic bowl, among others. 

And taking advantage of the strong food delivery market, the restaurant has partnered with Food Panda and Grab Food for delivery services. 

The restaurant now offers its signature lechon in a bilao. With prices starting at P2,500 (good for eight to 10 persons), the Lechon Bilao is targeted at group orders for party celebrations. 

Lechon sa Bilao. Photo by author

Aside from the brand's existing mobile app, it also launched a loyalty rewards app in partnership with Globe Telecom's Rush. This is paired with the restaurant's discount card, HappyCard.

“Sa edad kong ito, alam kong hindi ko kayang patakbuhin mag-isa ang hanapbuhay kong ito,” Nanay Lydia said. 

“Ngayon, katulad ni Ricky (Ricardo De Roca, president of Lydia's Lechon) ay katulong ko siya sa hanapbuhay, from management to finances. Lahat ng klaseng expansion sa Lydia's Lechon ay kinaya dahil sa tulong ng mga anak ko at buong pamilya,” she said.