Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Shakey's memories

October 24, 2006

For those of you who reside beyond the borders of the Bicol region, do you sometimes find yourself daydreaming about the city whom we spent our high school years?

Back in our high school days, there was a short article that was published on the Panorama magazine written by a high school student from Manila who spent her Christmas holiday in Naga City. She indicated that the Christmas atmosphere in Naga is quiet and life’s pace is a bit slow. She roamed around Naga and found the city to be thinly populated compared to the sardine-type living conditions that the Manilanians had to contend with due to the limited land spaces and expensive real estate prices in the metropolis.

Well, that was 27 years ago. If that same girl came back to Naga City now, she would find the place pretty much looking like Manila. Huge buildings rose and a lot of known restaurants sprang up everywhere catering to the fancy tastes that Bicolanos had developed over the years.
I remember back in the late 1970’s, there was much anticipation for the first Shakey’s restaurant to open in Naga City. Every teenager in Naga was excited because the opening of the Shakey’s Naga represented a narrowing of the cultural gap between the Naga crowd and the Manila crowd. The distinctive Shakey’s restaurant aroma and its trademark glass window designs effectively makes a customer feel like he/she walked into an old western saloon.

Months before the opening of Shakey’s Naga, lots of Naga teenagers can’t seem to contain their excitement to the upcoming opening of the famous pizza parlor. Because of this excitement, a place was informally tagged by Ateneans and Colegialas as "Shakey’s". This "Shakey’s" is a local "Banana-Q and Baduyaan" restaurant along Barlin street called "Perdon’s". (I guess that name is close enough to Shakey’s). This humble baduyaan serves fleshly fried banana-ques and ice-cold bottles of coke at very affordable prices. Perdon is an old 2-story wooden house whose fragile appearance makes one cautious in stepping into its wooden floors. I remember the first time I went there, nakaibanan ko si Ricky Sadiosa. For some reason, Ricky seemed to know all the latest watering and dining holes of Naga both simple and sophisticated. Upon seeing the place, I told Ricky, "Padi, garo baga magagaba na ining harong na nilaogan ta. Tibaad may multo pa digdiyo na nakaistar". Ricky took me to the second floor of the house and I was surprised to see lots of Colegialas hanging around and eating banana-ques. My fear of the place immediately vanished and we sat on a table next to a pair of friendly Colegialas with cute eyes. Biristuhan tulos!

Perdon’s Barbeque-han had been a site where budding romances developed over a bottle of Coke and Baduya. A few of these loving friendships ended up at the church altar. One of them is Teody "Chodz" Laguindanum & his lovely wife, Beth Bonifacio.

What I like about Perdon’s is their food presentation. On the way to the second floor of Perdon, a customer will always pass through their main kitchen where the magic of transforming simple saba babanas into exquisite banana-Qs are done. Their open kitchen displays a large aluminum made frying pan filled with boiling oil. A seasoned waiter (little kid) would stand nearby waiting for the newly fried babanas to be finished and would immediately rush the dish to its intended customers. For some reason, this smart looking waiter does not require that he be given any tips.

When Shakey’s Naga finally opened, teenagers flocked into it. Almost all the people who went to Shakey’s were surprised to discover an additional charge on their tab—TAX!. To the many that are used to paying the exact price on the menu, tax charge on the bill seemed to be a foreign item. I would sometimes even see two types of tax chargers on the bill bringing up the total amount. There was a time Shakey’s stopped serving beer because they wanted to keep the "family oriented" atmosphere of Shakey’s. This brought down the pizza sales of Shakey’s because a lot of Shakey’s patrons are drinking adults. After a while, the Shakey’s company overturned the no-beer policy and also noted in their menu a policy that when you go to Shakeys, you need to buy pizza before they can serve you beer. I guess this is better than not having beer.

Above the Shakey’s is a restaurant called "Condessa" and it caters to those people who want to have a subdued environment while enjoying their meals. There would be those who would spend time drinking at Shakey’s and would end up at Condessa to mellow down with a bowl of soup or late dinner before heading home.

Shakey’s has created some sort of a marker in our lives. It is no longer known as a pizza parlor that only serves freshly baked pizza, crunchy fried chicken and cold draft beer. For many of us, Shakey’s also serves childhood memories.

Shakey’s history
Shakey's was founded in Sacramento, California on April 30, 1954 by Sherwood "Shakey" Johnson and Ed Plummer. Johnson's nickname resulted from nerve damage following a bout of malaria suffered during World War II. The first weekend the parlor opened, only beer was served. Shakey took the profits from beer sales and bought ingredients for pizza the following Monday. The original store at 57th and "J" Street in Sacramento remained in business until the late 1990s.

Shakey personally played dixieland jazz piano to entertain patrons. Shakey's initially became known outside Sacramento not for its pizza but for the jazz program it sponsored on a regional radio network. Shakey Johnson is honored in the Banjo Hall of Fame in Guthrie, Oklahoma for his longtime use of banjo music at his pizza parlors. Other live music, including piano, was also a staple in the old Shakey's parlors.

The second Shakey's Pizza Parlor opened in Portland, Oregon in 1956. Shakey's began franchising its restaurant to others in 1957. According to Johnson, Shakey's Pizza engaged in little market research and made most of its decisions on where to locate stores by going where Kinney Shoes opened stores. By the time Johnson sold his interest in 1967, there were 272 Shakey's Pizza Parlors in the United States. The first international store opened in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1968. By 1975, the company had expanded to the Pacific Rim, including Japan and the Philippines. The chain is now much bigger in the Philippines than in the United States.

Shakey Johnson sold his half of the company for $3 million to Colorado Milling and Elevator in 1967, which acquired Plummer's half for $9 million the next year. Shakey's was again sold to Hunt International Resources in 1974. Two franchisees bought the chain in 1984, and they sold out to Inno-Pacific Holdings of Singapore in 1989. Most of the U.S. stores closed during the time Inno-Pacific owned the chain. Some of the remaining franchisees took Inno-Pacific to court in 2003. Before this could come to trial, Shakey's was sold to Jacmar Companies of Alhambra, California, in 2004. Jacmar had been the franchisee of 19 Shakey's restaurants.

Shakey's has gone from 325 stores throughout the United States when Hunt International bought the company in 1974 to 62 stores as of 2006, 55 of them in California. There are only three stores east of the Mississippi River: Warner Robins, Georgia and Janesville and West Allis, Wisconsin; and only three stores in the West outside California: Nogales, Arizona, and two in suburban Seattle. The Springfield, Illinois Shakey's, formerly known as "The Largest Shakey's The Country", recently ended its franchise agreement upon the announcement that Shakey's will be converting all buffets to sit-down restaurants.