Training, discipline, and hard work: these are all but ingredients for success. And this rings very true for Eduardo Pingol Nicdao, the owner of the renowned Filipino restaurant in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the New Cabalen.
From his humble beginnings in Pampanga, Nicdao, known as Tata Ed to many, has managed to build an empire in the food industry in the past 20 years. So far, he has established 13 branches of New Cabalen across the Kingdom, with one opening soon in the city of Jubail, and one operating in Bahrain; one bakery; one coffee shop; and one fine-dining restaurant, all thanks to his hard work and perseverance.
But before all these, Tata Ed had to endure a long journey from his hometown in Mabalacat.
Coming from a poor family, he worked to sustain his education because his parents could not afford sending him and his siblings to school altogether.
“We were poor at that time. I had to spend for my [own] education since my parents could not afford my schooling,” he told the Filipino Life.
While studying Hotel and Restaurant Management in University of the Philippines-Diliman by day, Tata Ed worked as a waiter by night. And as soon as he graduated from college in 1974, he was hired and was promoted as Food and Beverage Supervisor in Land Oil Resources in Mariveles, Bataan.
But Tata Ed, a man of dreams, wanted to widen his horizon. So in 1979, when working overseas had become a trend, he tried his luck abroad. He first worked as Maitre d’hôtel at Hatta Fort Hotel in Dubai for two years and in 1981 he joined Sheraton Hotel in Bahrain and was one of the pioneer staff in food and beverage department for 4 years.
After working hard for more than 4 years in Bahrain, he realised that chances for promotion were slim and started looking for a better opportunity. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and worked for a contracting company and was hired as a food specialist as a contractor for Saudi Consolidated Electric Company (SCECO).
After finishing his contract with SCECO, he then worked as a Supervising Steward in one of the most reputable companies in the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, formerly known as the Arabian-American Oil Company or ARAMCO.
Because of his fascination with hotels and restaurants and his passion for cooking, his supervisor in ARAMCO found potential to improve his career. Tata Ed took up education in Culinary Arts and studied in the oldest and most prestigious culinary school in the United States, the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, New York.
“After I studied culinary in America, I considered opening up a restaurant. Because I already had the knowledge of having my own business,” he said.
His ambition to have his own restaurant came to reality. In 1998, he opened the first branch of the New Cabalen restaurant in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. And from there, his restaurant grew: he was able to open more branches in Riyadh, Dammam, and Jeddah, as well as in Bahrain.
“Since I started working, I was involved in working with restaurants. So, from then and there I get my living from this business,” Tata Ed said. “So, I told myself that one day I am going to have my own restaurant.”
Sharing is caring
Tata Ed is not only known for being a successful entrepreneur, he is also known for his philanthropic deeds within the Kingdom’s Filipino community.
He was the founder of the group Cabalen Aguman Kapampampangan in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. He also helps some distressed OFWs, and sponsors school activities, organizations and communities.
He is also the adviser for the Philippine Nurses Association in Alkhobar and a regular volunteer in Philippines embassy on wheels.
“We donate one percent of the net profit to the charities. Like sponsoring students in Saudi Arabia, community school activities and organizations. What you spent to us, we donate one percent to charities,” he said.
Because of his notable work not just as a restaurateur but also as a philanthropist, Tata Ed was awarded as the Outstanding Migrant Worker Awardee 2014 by the Philippine Embassy Philippine Overseas Labor Office-East Region Office (POLO-ERO) during its Independence Day and annual Migrant Workers’ Day celebration last year.
New Cabalen restaurant gave a lot of opportunities to his fellow countrymen and instead of asking for more blessings, Tata Ed continued to share his fortune to Filipinos in the Kingdom who is in need. He remained to be humble and vowed to carry on his pledge to help his kababayans because “the restaurant has changed their lives for better opportunity,” he said.