For almost 30 years now, the bright yellow and red signage of Andok’s Litson Manok has been calling out to every chicken-loving Filipino on the street, and if that doesn’t get your attention, a whiff of that smoky aroma coming out of their rotisserie is sure to make you turn around fast. For how can one resist the sight and scent of Andok’s chicken roasting over a pit of hot coals, their skin slowly turning gloriously brown, glistening invitingly, dripping and oozing with lip-smacking juicy flavor?
While children of the eighties grew up loving Andok’s litson manok, so too did Maverick Javier, who witnessed firsthand how his father, Leandro “Sandy” Javier, Jr., built the brand from hard work to what it is today, the king of litson manok and a major player in the food industry. The story goes that Sandy, with no capital to start his business, borrowed 12 chickens to roast by the roadside, seeing the potential in litson manok when the craze hit the country.
Versions of the story range from his father selling only two to four chickens out of the twelve, but regardless which one is true, Maverick says the fact remains that his father failed miserably in his first bid to launch his litson manok business. Rather than feel disheartened, his father took the loss as a challenge. In his heart, he was determined to keep his promise to the elder Leandro “Andok” Sr.
For years, Sandy was considered the dark horse in the family. While his elder brothers, comedian George, and Danny Javier of the APO Hiking Society were making names for themselves in the entertainment industry, he still had to find his place in the sun. He had the skills and the drive, but didn’t know where to put them to good use. His search brought him abroad where he took on odd jobs, but he had to come home to see his ailing father. And on his deathbed, Sandy promised his father that he would make it his mission to make their name known across the country.
His little start-up litson manok business was the vehicle to do this. He learned from his first attempt and spent much time after perfecting his recipe, getting valuable inputs from customers until finally, the unique and unmistakable taste of Andok’s litson manok was rolled out in his first store in Baler, Quezon City. He learned early on that having a large sign was important and so the bright yellow and red colors of Andok’s became a familiar sight to all passersby.
Maverick recalls that even when the business was lowly picking up during the first three years, his father made it a point to spend only P50 each day on his family. He would save religiously, even checking his passbook everyday just to see his earnings grow little by little. How it has grown through the years is a testament to his father’s tenacious perseverance to succeed in the rightful place he has found for himself and fulfill his promise to makefamous the name of Andok’s in honor of his father.
While the original takeout stalls multiplied around the city, their first dine-in restaurant came about in 2004 in Boracay, when Juan Elizalde offered them a space in the newly opened D’Mall. “Originally,” Maverick recounts, “it was supposed to be just a take-out stall, but we realized that we had space in front, so we placed simple monobloc plastic chairs for people to sit, and they came. It was a successful venture.” They decided to replicate the same concept in Manila and other provinces. From Boracay, they set up stores in Iloilo and across the Visayas, all the way to Samar.
Today, Andok’s presence is felt in its 400 strong stores across the country, with more coming. Plans to penetrate Mindanao and foreign shores are set in the near future. They have managed to open at least 50 take-out stores every year, and strategically add other marketable products in their lineup, including litson liempo, bangus, pork chops, and their much in-demand rice toppings of favorite Filipino dishes that are conveniently packed for take-out. To reach even more of its customers, Andok’s has acquired three food trucks that move around Bonifacio Global City or anywhere there is an event where they can service the food requirements of a crowd. Because chicken is their bread and butter, it is a mortal sin to run out of supply of this commodity.
The bird flu scare and Typhoon Ondoy almost brought their supply to a halt, but they made it a point to scavenge the public markets for chicken even if prices there were more expensive. They never wavered in their commitment, “even if we sell at a loss, so long as there is chicken turning in our rotisserie to serve our customers,” Maverick declares. Part of Andok’s success lies in the company’s ability to feel the pulse of its market and respond to it by providing what the market needs. From its early beginnings, Andok’s has consistently provided Pinoys with convenience by making its products readily available practically at arm’s length in every major thoroughfare.
Their legendary recipe, unchanged since Sandy Javier hit the perfect formula, continues to bring in the crowd full of repeat customers unable to get enough of the juiciest, flavor-packed roast chicken they can feast on at the most pocket-friendly price. It’s hard to beat a winning combination of convenience, good taste and practical affordability. For Maverick, he sees the hand of his father behind every successful outlet of Andok’s, whose work ethic has trickled down to everyone employed in the company. “His value for hard work and staying true to your word has been ingrained in us. Andok’s is a brand that has always been associated with great service, good quality, and exceptional chicken. Our customers expect that from us every time.” Maverick himself has known the ropes of the company long before he came on board in 2010, when he formally joined as Vice-President, and where his main job, he says, is to “keep this wonderful ship afloat.”
His dad made his children work in the stores, from cleaning, cashiering, to facing the customers with the expectation that they had a complete knowledge of what they had to offer. Sandy could launch a spiel on how really good their products were and successfully convince their customers to order and taste for themselves. Leading by example was one of the principles that Sandy made sure to pass on to Maverick and his siblings. And if there’s one description of how good their litson manok is coming from an exclusive chicken-chomping fiend for most of his growing up years, Maverick confidently declares that without a doubt, one bite of Andok’s litson manok and “gugulong ka sa sarap.” For sure, he takes after his father’s brand of bullishness and for good reason.
He plans to take the company to greater heights. “We want to saturate the market as much as possible, and command the highest market share. Other chicken outlets may come but we will continue to stay on top, we will never be out of the litson manok industry.” Brash words, one may say, but behind each word is Maverick’s promise to abide by his father’s guiding principles of hard work, looking ahead, making the most of your resources, and making decisions from the point of view of your customers. Full of admiration, he quietly professes that “my father is a very brilliant, brilliant man. He has this unique aura about himself. I hope someday, in time, I would get there.” It’s an assurance that the legacy of Andok’s and his father will continue on under the stewardship of Maverick Javier.