The first time I had Tropical Hut was in 2015 at their Cubao branch. I needed to kill time as I waited for my film to develop in Farmer's Plaza, so there I was, needing a snack. Just like a tito, I ordered a simple, juicy cheeseburger with crispy fries to match.
The chain was and is well-loved, but is often overshadowed by its fast food frenemies. People choose Jollibee over Tropical Hut most days, overlooking its nostalgic charm and its wild, wide menu.
A recent tweet from JP @dumidyeypee claimed he was Tropical Hut's only customer at their Escolta branch about a week ago.
A sad screenshot of a 2019 post on Facebook by the Tropical Hut Carmona branch also resurfaced simply saying, "Kumain naman kayo sa amin." The branch has since closed.
These were some of the domino pieces that started a social media revival. Or, a rush hour. People were emotional, people were curious, people were hungry, or all three at the same time.
Inspired by these tweets, my wife and I drove out to the Tropical Hut branch on Shaw-Pioneer street. We wanted to get some lunch and document the scene, using the same film camera I used to bring to Cubao in 2015.
At around 12:30 pm, we found customers, both old and new, lining up for their burgers, clubhouse sandwiches, fried chicken, and spaghetti. Grab riders queued up, matching Tropical Hut's lime green interiors.
While I was snapping photos of the staff, I got to chat with branch manager, Jhun Ordonez, who gamely jumped into a shot. A loyal employee of Tropical Hut since 1988 (a few years after this Shaw-Pioneer branch opened), Ordonez shared how he and the staff are overjoyed with the resurgence, and how people are trusting the brand again.
It's reassuring to see how a few tweets can reconnect customers with a near-forgotten business. With droves of customers once again flooding their branch of choice with orders, there's even talk of new Tropical Hut job openings, just to keep up with the sudden surge in demand.
It’s nice to see a little tropical hope once in a while.