Angel's Burger Joseph and Vicky Mojica
Competing on the cost front: 24/7 Angel’s Burger fast food kiosks can be found in street corners, marketplaces, and commercial areas in most cities and big towns across the Philippines. Inset, the burger chain founders Joseph and Vicky Mojica. Image Credit: Jay Hilotin | Gulf News | Angel's Burger

Manila: A fast-food chain in the Philippines known for its affordable <$1 burgers – via a permanent buy-1-take-1 offer – and other snacks is making waves.

The story of Angel's Burger, owned by former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), goes back to 1997, when it was established by a local husband-and-wife entrepreneurs named Joseph and Vicky Mojica.

The couple started with a small burger stand in Manila, with the simple aim to provide tasty yet inexpensive food options to the masses.

We tried their burgers. Here’s our verdict.

King of buy-1-take-1 burger

The Philippines has a thriving fast food business. What sets Angel’s Burger apart is its ubiquity and affordability – its buy-1-take-1 burger offer has worked its magic, remarkably growing the business across the archipelago.

Starting out in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, they relocated operations first to Concepcion Uno, Marikina City, before settling in Parang, Marikina. Now housed in a cutting-edge building complex, the company boasts a direct workforce of 2,195 employees.

This pace of expansion has seen its kiosk count hit 1,300 across the archipelago.

In 2022, the company hit a milestone, having sold 5 billion burgers. Statista named Angel's Burger as the Philippines' leading street stall or kiosk, clocking up total sales of about $134 million in 2022.

$ 134 m

Estimated sales of Angel's Burger from 1,300 across the Philippines in 2022 (Source: Statista)

The burger joint was followed by its closest rival, Tender Juicy Hotdog, with total sales of approximately $110 million, according to the data firm.

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“And what will make us the happiest is kapag ang customer masaya (if the customers are happy),” said Angel's Burger founder Vicky Mojica. Image Credit: Jay Hilotin | Gulf News

The brand's success didn’t come easy

The Mojicas cherish running their business in the Philippines. Originally franchisees of another burger chain, they ventured out in 1997, naming their own enterprise after their daughter, Angel.

Despite early struggles – when they couldn’t even afford their daughter’s tuition fee – the couple was given a tempting 1-million-peso buyout offer at a time when they only had 13 branches.

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Filipino construction worker Renato Diamsay, 30, treats his wife Salvacion and their two children JC Emmanuel, 6, and Matthew, 4, at an Angel's Burger kiosk in Iriga City, about 415 km south-east of Manila. Image Credit: Jay Hilotin | Gulf News

They declined the offer and persevered.

An unexpected opportunity to work in the US came and they grabbed it. Then a $10,000 windfall prompted their return, allowing them to revitalise their business.

In 2003, they started franchising, causing the network to explode. Over the years, Angel's Burger expanded its presence across Metro Manila and other provinces.

Vicky Mojica, a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Angel's Burger
Vicky Mojica, a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW), founded Angel's Burger with her husband Joseph in 1997. The fastfood network's widespread accessibility and low prices made it a favourite among students, workers, and families looking for quick and affordable meals. Image Credit: Screengrab

Today, Angel’s Burger thrives under the management of the Mojica family, including their children Cholo, Angel, and Joma.

Angel's Burger owes much of its success to its unwavering dedication to quality and affordability. With a diverse menu boasting classics like cheeseburgers and foot-long Hungarian sandwich, it ensures there's something for every palate.

For its founders, quality is key.

“What we serve is real beef, not pork or chicken,” said Vicky Mojica. “Kaya po talaga kahit konti ang kita, basta marami, pwede na po talaga sa amin yon (Even if we only earn a little, but multiplied a lot, that’s more than enough for us).”

Making customers happy, harnessing technology

“And what will make us happiest is kapag ang customer masaya (if the customers are happy),” she added, in a video interview.

To scale, Angel’s Burger went into franchising, harnessing online payments, for example in the payment of employee salaries and collecting online franchise stock payments. Through the service, Angel’s Burger franchisees send their stock payments online through a banking app.

Cholo Mojica, the CEO, said: “We don’t own all Angel’s Burger stores. Most of them are owned by franchisees. They used to pay their stock payments in cash in our office or via bank deposit but then they would still have to send us their deposit slip, which was very tedious for them. When we availed of the BDO Online Bills Payment service, our franchisees need not go out to pay us. They can just pay us online and that’s a very big help to us.”

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A 20-peso Egg Sandwich ($0.36) is also available at Angel's Burger.

Having known financial hardship themselves, the Mojicas always put people first — their customers, employees, and business partners — when it comes to running the business.

Angel's Burger's success also paved the way for the rise of similar burger franchises in the Philippines, contributing to the country's vibrant street food culture.

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Staff of Angel's Burger prepare food at the company's central kitchen. Most of its 1,300 kiosks are owned by franchisees. Image Credit: Screengrab

Angel’s Burger has a fast-food recipe and a business strategy that has made them winners in their own game.