Max’s Restaurant serves Filipino iconic food with social consciousness

Nostalgia is a gentle gesture to enjoy the goodness of Filipino cuisine.

Many generations of Filipinos through countless wedding, Christening, birthday and anniversary celebrations have passed by and tasted the famous Max’s chicken which is the most iconic food ever served since its founding in 1945, almost after World War ll.

“What, Max will have a branch in Winnipeg, wow, that’s something to connect as my family has been in Max’s restaurant for many celebrations, somehow, a part of our family and I am excited to experience again that sumptuous fried chicken,” as one Winnipegger was totally blown-out upon knowing that Max’s Restaurant would have a franchise to open sooner.

Co-Owners, Arnel and John Alibin, at Golden Balangay Awards where Max’s Restaurant and Arnel Alibin was nominated.

A big welcome by the Filipinos who had been connected with Max’s in many ways, giving them another chance to a dining experience they had in the Philippines, and the only chance to savour the food is when they would go for holidays in Manila.

The new Filipino foreign franchise took the Filipinos in Winnipeg with warm anticipation and healing the nostalgic feeling of good food, Max’s Restaurant has gone deeper into the hearts of local institutions like World Vision, Victoria General Hospital Foundation, and Salvation Army, making their involvement a new positive force of good corporate citizenry.

The Filipino Journal, with its new column, Pinoy Eatcetera, has eagerly sought JR and Arnel Alibin, members of the Alibin Group responsible to bring the iconic Max’s Restaurant to Winnipeg for heart to heart talk:

FJ: What motivated you to be in the restaurant business and garnering Max’s Restaurant franchise in Winnipeg?
Just like any business, due diligence and correct business relationships were all factors in bringing Max’s Restaurants global brand to our city. Our family were Winnipeg Ambassadors to the international business community that ultimately led to Max’s Asia & North America picking up Winnipeg as their #6 home in Canada. We aim to contribute in elevating Filipino cuisine in Manitoba and demonstrate that Filipinos are world class entrepreneurs by proudly carrying the Max’s Restaurant brand.

FJ: What obstacles have you encountered when you decided to open this franchise, knowing that there are many Filipino restaurants as your competitor?
We try not to focus on obstacles but rather find ways to be innovative and confidently tackle challenges as they come. Our family pays homage to our community pioneers in the Filipino restaurant business – Bueno’s, Pampanga’s, Aristrocrat, Le Merage that came before us. We are blessed with the diverse Filipino population in Manitoba. Our mindset is that there is always enough business for everyone. Good businesses thrive when we move and support each other rather than against each other.

Co-Owner and General Manager, Arnel Alibin, delivering Max’s cater food to a healthcare facility.

FJ: Would “food nostalgia” the main driving factor to offer the well-known fried chicken which has been the favorite of the Filipinos since its founding in the 40s?
Yes, definitely. Our family have many Max’s Philippines memories & celebration. We hope for our Kababayans will remember their good memories from Max’s Philippines when dining in or celebrating at Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg.

FJ: Is this a family company? And who is involved?
Just like how Max’s started in the Philippines in 1945, yes this is a family company. We are a family first and good business is a by-product of our group dynamic and having each contribute to our success.

FJ: Being active in the Filipino community and beyond, when did you start being a good corporate citizen, being involved in the community and other charitable endeavours?
We are very happy that more and more Canadian-Filipino community leaders and businesses are being recognized compared to a decade ago. It is an honour for Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg to be considered a business community leader serving authentic Philippine cuisine. Max’s will always be there to represent the Filipino community.

We have represented and championed Filipino values in our community through Max’s Winnipeg’s fundraising involvement with World Vision Canada, Victoria Hospital Foundation and Salvation Army.

With World Vision, during pre-pandemic we had the opportunity to raise more than $3,000 for the Philippines Taal calamity, where we held a breakfast fundraiser at Max’s Restaurant. It was an overwhelming response which draw more than 200 people and involved vendor suppliers and other Filipino businesses. All of the funds were collected by World Vision Winnipeg, 100% of all funds were then directed to World Vision Philippines to do good work.

We have had the opportunity to be a host event for Victoria Hospital Foundation’s (VHF) Miracle Garden fundraising gala, two years in a row, 2020 and 2021. Our family has a strong connection with the healthcare sector because family members also work in it. Our general manager and co-owner, Arnel Alibin, worked in healthcare for 17 years before managing Max’s Restaurant. Healthcare is close to our hearts, and so we did not hesitate in partnering with VHF to host their fundraising gala and help them promote Mental Health Awareness. Mental health issues affect all demographics, including the Filipino community and so it was important for us to be part of it.

In 2022, we got involved in an awareness and promotion campaign with Salvation Army Prairie Office. Poverty and homelessness are around us, in our community. As a family of immigrants, we are blessed to have had the opportunities of education, employment and business available to us by this great nation, Canada, that we call home. If we look around us, not everyone is in a good place – for reasons of circumstance in their lives and so, without judgment we are happy to work with Salvation Army to promote this awareness. We hope this partnership will continue for many years to come.

FJ: It seems that there are some adds-on on your current menu?
We are blessed to have a collaborative team with original, creative marketing and promotions. There is something everyone in the family when they dine in at Max’s Restaurant.

HSC Dialysis Staff Christmas Party with Max’s Co-Owner, Sheila (Alibin) Bernardo.

Max’s team members during 75-year celebrations in store.

For non-Filipinos who want to venture into Filipino cuisine – we recommend these favourites: Max’s Fried Chicken, Pancit, Lumpia and Halo-halo (with Ube ice cream).

For the more adventurous try our all time favourites: Kare-kare (beef & oxtail), Crispy Pata (pork hock) and Lechon Kawali (pork belly).

Max’s Restaurant- 204-615-6297