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Meet Eric dela Cruz of Oi Asian Fusion

Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric dela Cruz.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Eric. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
We started Oi in February of 2013. I used to work for Bank of America as a Loan Analyst. I worked there for about 7 yrs and hated the latter part of it, so I decided to take the risk and start my own business. Me, my childhood friend, Paul King, and my co-worker at BofA, Kareem Lacey founded Oi. I started out just researching recipes online that I want to cook for my family and friends during the weekend. As I go, I realized that I was really getting into it, and having a blast at the same time. I decided to take it a bit farther and held underground dinners for friends, and friends of friends of about 80-100 per event. I was lucky to have such supportive family and friends, they were my sous chefs, my waiters, my cashiers, my dishwashers, my customers as well, it was fun for me and them as well. In January of 2013, I decided to leave Bank of America and pursue what I love to do. I, Paul, and Kareem had no prior experience with restaurants, no experience with running our own business, but what the hell, let’s give it a shot, we said. We found a tiny 8 seater abandoned restaurant spot in Reseda, CA, talked to the owner who had closed it down a year back, came to an agreement to sublease the place for a year, which was perfect for us. We relied on friends and family spreading the word, and plain word of mouth since we had no budget for marketing. After about 3 months, we started getting more and more customers, 7 mouths in, we pretty much outgrew the tiny spot, so we started looking for a bigger spot. In March of 2014, we moved to 7242 Canoga Ave, and in Oct 2015 we opened our 2nd location at 4734 Hollywood Blvd. We are still having fun and still learning!

Has it been a smooth road?
Since we had no experience at all, yes it was very difficult and still is! How do we keep our food consistently good, and freshly cooked per order, how do we wash dishes so it does not take us 2-3 hours to do so. How do we handle the money! How do we find suppliers. It was all a question for us. We worked 14-18 hours per day, we did what made sense until it didn’t. It was frustrating and challenging. We came out better every day.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Oi Asian Fusion story. Tell us more about the business.
We serve Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and American food. We take a traditional comfort food, put our own twist of flavor and style to make it unique and accessible to different cultures.

Adobo rice bowl is our most popular dish. I’m really proud of this dish. Every filipino’s homemade adobo is the best adobo there is. So creating an adobo that everyone would love was a challenge and at the same time intimidating. Also proud of the fact that our customer base isn’t just Filipinos or Asians, we have a really mixed worldwide audience. We have so many regulars that we become friends with them.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I think small businesses are striving and will continue in the retail food industry. Consumers are more aware of better quality food, and consumers demand high-quality food for a good price.


Image Credit:
Josh Bantay

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