LANDBANK and Antonio’s partnership: Business recipe for success

From a single restaurant with 30 employees, Antonio “Chef Tony Boy” Escalante managed to translate his love for cooking into a culinary empire of multiple restaurants across the Philippines with support from LANDBANK.

TAGAYTAY CITY – Just like having the right ingredients to create gastronomic experiences, to having an excellent team of chefs in the kitchen, it also takes the right people and partnerships to build a successful restaurant business. This adage rings true for Antonio “Chef Tony Boy” Escalante and the remarkable journey of the Antonio’s Group of Restaurants.

Chef Tony Boy started his career not in the kitchen but in dentistry school. He then traded the dental chair for the open skies, working as a cabin crew member for Philippine Airlines for nearly a decade. However, he was only able to spread his wings and fly when he finally decided to pursue his ultimate passion – cooking.

His culinary journey began at the Regency Park Institute of TAFE in Adelaide, Australia, where he honed his skills through various kitchen jobs before returning home to the Philippines. In Manila, he spent three years refining his culinary skills at the prestigious Tivoli Grill in the Mandarin Oriental Manila.

In 2002, Chef Tony Boy’s culinary dream materialized with the opening of his namesake restaurant in Tagaytay City. The establishment quickly became a hallmark of fine dining, lauded for its exquisite cuisine and impeccable service.

Antonio’s Restaurant soon garnered numerous accolades as one of the country’s most celebrated restaurants. From 2007 to 2014, it consistently won the Best Continental Restaurant Award at Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets Awards. From 2008 to 2013, it was the sole Filipino entry in the Miele Guide’s Top 20 Southeast Asian restaurants, even reaching number five in the 2010 edition. Antonio’s also secured the top 48th spot on Asia’s Best Restaurants in 2015.

Expanding the Culinary Vision with LANDBANK

Chef Tony Boy wanted to expand Antonio’s operations beyond a single restaurant. In 2006, he established the Escanova Ventures which housed Antonio’s Restaurant and Breakfast at Antonio’s.

He then embarked on a new venture in 2015 and put up “Balay Dako,” a restaurant offering traditional local fare and fusion cuisine with great views of Taal Lake. This required significant financial investment, with more capital needed to see plans for further expansion materialize.

In 2017, Chef Tony Boy turned to Land Bank of the Philippines (LANDBANK) for a P113-million loan. This was the start of a productive partnership that laid the groundwork for sustained growth and success.

The LANDBANK support supplemented Escanova Ventures’ capital, which enabled the expansion of Antonio’s Fine Dining and the renovation of Breakfast at Antonio’s. The loan also helped build BP One Foods Inc. to spearhead the restaurant chain’s expansion across Luzon.

The state-run Bank also remained a steadfast partner throughout crises, offering financial solutions and support when Antonio’s Group was tested during the 2019 Taal Volcano eruption and the subsequent COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the height of the pandemic, LANDBANK was there for us. They provided deferments, helped us analyze our finances, and offered tailored products that perfectly addressed our needs,” shared Chef Tony Boy.

Basti Escalante led the pivot to distribution and sale of Antonio’s popular products in Metro Manila during the pandemic through Pedro the Grocer. He has since played a significant role focusing on the retail side of the business.

During this challenging period, Chef Tony’s son, Antonio Sebastian “Basti” Escalante, stepped up and became active in running the business. He spearheaded a brilliant initiative based on the shift in consumer preference towards convenient food options.

Basti brought Antonio’s popular frozen, baked, and ready-to-eat products from Tagaytay City to Metro Manila for distribution and sale. Seeing the strong and stable demand, he then convinced his father to open a dedicated store, which is now known as Pedro the Grocer.

From then on, Basti became an active partner, focusing on the retail and business side of the Antonio’s chain of restaurants. This father-and-son collaboration further strengthened the Antonio’s Group, allowing them to adapt and thrive amidst challenging circumstances.

Empowered by LANDBANK’s support, Chef Tony Boy emerged from the pandemic with renewed confidence to expand further. This financial backing and trust allowed the Antonio’s Group to navigate the crises and adapt to grow amidst uncertainties.

“LANDBANK believed in us, our goals, and how we run our business. This trust, even during the pandemic, was a stamp of approval that gave us the confidence to expand our ventures,” said Chef Tony Boy.

Cooking a Culinary Legacy

What started as a single restaurant with a team of 30 has blossomed into a culinary empire of almost a thousand employees. Today, the Antonio’s Group of Restaurants continues to flourish, driven by Chef Tony Boy’s passion, Basti’s innovative spirit, and the unwavering support of LANDBANK.

“With LANDBANK’s help, their banking expertise, and the dedication of their employees, we have been able to expand into Metro Manila and other cities. They have been instrumental in realizing our expansion plans,” said Chef Tony Boy.

Fueled by LANDBANK’s commitment to empowering Filipino entrepreneurs, Chef Tony Boy’s story transcends mere culinary success. It’s a narrative of how the right ingredients, the right people, and the right partnerships can create a recipe for business excellence.


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