It’s tough enough to be a working student and even more if one is both studying and running a business.
Two entrepreneurship students from the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Kathleen Corine Teodoro and Monica Alissandra Agnes dreamed of opening their own restaurant. Despite the demands of being graduating students, they managed to put up Healthy Belly.
Located at Delos Reyes St., Sampaloc, Manila, Healthy Belly Restaurant opened last July 2012. A newbie in the peripherals of UST, the restaurant is gradually gaining patrons especially students around the university belt and dorm-dwellers.
“We offer healthy foods that click with the taste of the students. Kasi usually the notion on healthy food is that its blunt, walang lasa. Gusto namin mag-offer ng food na healthy and at the same time delicious,” Monica Agnes, one of the owners, said in an interview.
“At Healthy Belly, we also want to prove that healthy food is never boring,” KC Teodoro added.
The restaurant uses whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, low-fat milk and cheese. And in every meal, there must be at least a vegetable in the ingredients.
The restaurant’s distinct feature among other food stores near UST is its pannini. According to Monica, Healthy Belly is the only restaurant around UST offering panninis. “Kaya lahat ng students curious kung ano yung pannini. Gusto rin namin makilala dahil sa pannini. Parang trademark,” Monica said.
Another unique feature of Healthy Belly is its interior. The owners wanted a vibe wherein customers can relax and study. KC’s mom, who is a interior designer, helped them in designing the place’s interior. “I told my mom that I wanted a restaurant with a Starbucks-vibe but with a touch of nature’s colors,” KC shared.
Plus, the music inside the resto is not party music but soothing and relaxing music.
It is remarkable how these young business partners and graduating students were able to juggle school and business. Though there are times they would face difficulties and pressures, both are very hands-on in managing their restaurant.
“Pag papasok na kami, mga 15 minutes before magbibihis na kami ng uniform. Dadalhin na namin yung uniform namin dito tapos dito na lang magbibihis. Tapos diretso na agad sa school. [When it's time to go to school, we will dress up 15 minutes before our class. We will bring our uniforms here in the resto and will just change our clothes here. Then we'll go straight to school.],” KC said.
“After school, diretso na agad dito tapos magbabantay na kami hanggang 10 p.m. Imo-monitor namin sales namin kung nag-improve ba or humina, tapos aalamin namin kung bakit humina. Bakit nag-improve? [After school, we'll go straight to the resto and we'll stay until 10pm. We are also monitoring our sales if it improved or declined and then we'll discern why it declined and why it improved.],” KC added.
Running the restaurant did not serve as a distraction for the young owners. Instead, it served as an inspiration for them to be better in school. Both got higher grades and one of them is running for Latin honors.
Their parents couldn’t get any prouder of them. At such a young age, they were able to pull off a restaurant business that would cater to their fellow students. For KC and Monica, Healthy Belly is worth the sacrifice and the business plan that was simply an idea materialized into reality.
For more details about Healthy Belly, you may visit and like them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HealthyBellyPH
Follow them on twitter: @HealthyBellyPH https://twitter.com/HealthyBellyPH