Filipino star Daniel Padilla reveals appetite for business as restaurant opens in Dubai

Actor believes booming city has ingredients needed for success as he becomes culinary partner

Filipino actor Daniel Padilla is a partner at Dubai restaurant Spice Grill. Photo: Star Music
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Filipino actor and singer Daniel Padilla says Dubai's “endless possibilities” have persuaded him to invest in a new restaurant.

One of the biggest film and television personalities in the Philippines, Padilla is in the city for today's grand opening of Spice Grill, a Filipino-owned surf and turf venue that already has a branch in Sharjah. The Dubai branch opens at Al Ghurair Centre, Deira, in Flayva food hall, with Padilla, 28, joining as business partner.

“This place has changed a lot and it's really impressive. I've always loved coming to Dubai, and I have envisioned myself starting a business here. The entire city is built around endless possibilities and the idea that anything you can imagine can be done,” Padilla tells The National.

Spice Grill first opened in 2020, and co-owner Lourds Adalia-Evertse believes Padilla's investment as a partner marks a new chapter of growth for the business. “We couldn't be more thrilled about this journey together,” she explains. “This will take our brand to the next level.”

Spice Grill, which joins Salvis Junior, Bacolod Inasal BBQ and Chibog Restaurant on a growing list of Filipino restaurants in Flayva food hall, is known for its fresh seafood cooked in a range of sauces with white jasmine rice. It serves dishes in classic Filipino “boodle fight-style”, where the food is laid out on the table and diners eat with their hands.

Co-owner and chef Cristine Caringal-Melad reveals that the team has created a separate menu for the Dubai branch, incorporating more regional Filipino dishes. “We're cooking up something truly special here,” she adds.

Caringal-Melad owns several businesses in the Philippines, and regards the partnership with Padilla as a way to expand the number of Filipino-owned establishments in the UAE.

Spice Grill made headlines when it opened in Sharjah only hiring employees who had lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic. The business also prides itself on its social responsibility efforts, often teaming up with budding Filipino artists.

That is all part of the appeal for Padilla, who describes the opportunity to become a partner as a “no-brainer”. He adds: “When the opportunity came to partner with a brand that shares my values and principles, I grabbed it.”

Although he is making his first business investment in Dubai, Padilla is no stranger to the emirate, having previously visited the city many times to perform for and meet his fans. Investing in property in the city is also a longer-term ambition, he revealed.

Padilla is also a business owner in the Philippines with stakes in the country's retail and food industries. He is one of many other Filipino celebrities who are also restaurant owners. Among them, actor couple Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo are known for their Manila restaurant, Angrydobo, which focuses on the popular Filipino dish, adobo.

Marvin Agustin, who started as an actor and later studied to become a chef, owns Kondwi in Makati, a space that doubles as an art gallery, while Filipino-Italian actor and model Matteo Guidicelli owns an Italian restaurant in the highbrow neighbourhood Alabang in Metro Manila.

Updated: March 05, 2024, 10:13 AM