They say strong women coming out of break-ups and divorces are like phoenixes.
Chiqui Eusebio came out of her second separation before she established the first Red Crab restaurant in what was then part of Mimosa Leisure Estate. It was 1998, and the Americans (a big part of whom were her clients in her real estate business) just level Clark and the environs just a few years before that. To find inner peace, she does two things: paint and do cooking sessions with her kumares, squeezed in between mahjong tournaments.
In the earlier part of 1998, Tony Gonzalez of Mimosa offered Chiqui one of the few available officers’ cottages facing the enormous Stotsenberg Field. Coming from one of her cooking sessions, where she was cooking crabs with her friends, she thought of putting up Red Crab.
The first crab house was so successful, the flock came fro
m as far as Metro Manila and Northern Luzon. It didn’t take long before the opportunity of expanding came to fore.
Chiqui’s only Son, Raymund Magdaluyo, a true-blue Atenean who has just been trained as an economist-cum-urban planner serendipitously started helping out in the construction of the second crab house.
It didn’t take long before the Son bumps his head and takes the ultimate career gamble of his life. In 2001, Raymund decides to be a full-time restaurateur, and takes over all operations in Metro Manila.
Being immersed in what he calls the “Malate School of Hospitality” under his so-called gurus Larry Cruz and Ricky Gutierrez, Raymund knew the same bug pushing some crazy men and women into this laborious way of life had bitten him.
The next several years saw the birth of sister concepts, most of which are largely seafood dining formats such as Crustasia, Blackbeard’s Seafood Island, and ClawDaddy.
The mother crab concept, now called Red Crab Alimango House has several branches. Raymund’s group’s vision is to make Red Crab one of the homegrown favorites among balikbayans, as well as local and international tourists. The group creates this “Alimango House” experience by combining mostly Filipino regional crab and seafood recipes with a dining ambience inspired by folksongs and Pinoy pop-culture.
Crab Maritess, has been a hands down favorite over the years. However, Raymund, along with sibling chefs Nikki and Chang have been churning out new bestsellers such as Crab Pateros (cooked in balut and aligue) and the Pinoy-style Salted-Egg Crab. Crab dishes from ‘abroad’ include Hong Kong’s Typhoon Shelter Crab (cooked and smothered with dried garlic and chilies) is served on a bed of fried egg noodles.
What marriage wasn’t able to bring together, was kept intact by a common love for food. Chiqui, her Son Raymund and sibling chefs have now grown a large extended family, with one common goal: to bring other families closer together through what Raymund calls “seafood bonding.”