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Before there ever was a “Jollibee” there was an emerging restaurant called Tropical Hut hamburger. Preceding the leading Filipino owned hamburger chain today by 13 years, this little coffee shop owned by the Que family grew; but unfortunately as of late, growth has been stunted due to mismanagement, dwindling innovations and overall poor service.

I remember when our father brought us to the big restaurant they built on the exact spot where there is a deep excavation now on the crossing of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA in the Philippines. It was big and it actually was designed like a nipa hut. Inside though was just like any other regular restaurant or small diner. There were the tables with white tablecloths and the counter with the aluminum fixtures. I vaguely recall a waiter taking our orders unlike now where it’s self-service. Ah, the joys of franchising.

The amenities have improved but the service is absolutely appalling.  Then again, what fastfood franchise has excellent service anyway? Although, through my personal experience I can safely say they have one of the worst.

I’m glad I wrote this a few days after my family ate there, because at the time I was actually tired and hungry and therefore might not have viewed the meal experience objectively. In retrospect, I think my initial analysis might have been spot on.

Initially I was impressed that the store manager was actually helping out with preparing the contents of the package meals I ordered.  Alas she was not paying careful attention. I asked not to have ice in my drink because a) the drink that came from the vending machine was already cold and b) it watered down the softdrink.

Then we had to wait for almost 20 minutes just to get 3 burgers and a Salisbury type of meal. I never had that experience in a fastfood diner before, not with simple meals anyway.

This was the food I ordered and how it was delivered. It was called the “Double Double Burger” package and it originally cost Php 140.00 ( approximately US$ 3.25). I had the fries and the drink made into bigger portions for Php 20.00 (US$ 0.46) because frankly the original size was  equivalent to half a small potato. The aluminum foil was a nice touch in trying to keep the food fresh, but didn’t have much effect when I saw the meat inside and how it tasted.

Now, even with the yellow light installed in the diner you can still see that the meat looks a bit rare. It was just like a regular burger with lettuce, cucumber slice and tomatoes only it had two burger patties. I don’t know if this was how it would have actually been prepared but it seems to me that the cook just boiled the hamburger patty and then slapped it into the bun. I would have liked it if it was actually grilled, or fried properly. At least let me enjoy my cholesterol blow out, right?

The food tasted as it looked, kind of bland, kind of rare, and looked like it was ready to run at any point of the meal. The fries weren’t better off. The fries that I opted to “enlarge” looked like a regular order of it when compared to other restaurants of the same class. They were hard and cold, as were the other meals I ordered.

The fact that the busboy somehow ignored my request for ketchup and forgot my daughter’s extra order for rice didn’t help in the dining experience either.

All in all, I’d say you’ll have better luck finding better meals at (though I’d hate to say it)  McDonald’s…or the city dump.

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