Why this new resto is Gabe Norwood’s new ‘tambayan’

Barry Viloria on Aug 24, 2016 11:53 PM
Why this new resto is Gabe Norwood’s new ‘tambayan’
Meet the businessman behind the basket king. (Photos by Vyn Radovan)

Welcoming you next to the flight of stairs at the second floor of the flourishing Uptown Parade in Taguig City is a new diner that prides itself for the South American cuisine served. At least once a week, you can find Rain or Shine and SMART Gilas Pilipinas member Gabe Norwood plus his family and maybe some of his teammates hanging out there. Two reasons: “It’s convenient to chill at, as my kids play soccer in the area here at The Fort,” and that it’s his new business venture.

The resto is called Naxional South American Diner, recently launched and offering a mix of Brazilian, Venezuelan, and other dishes hailing from the Southern American region. It’s Norwood’s second attempt in entrepreneurship after 360 Pro at Sparta in Mandaluyong with Coach Chappy Callanta.

“We love food,” the charming 6’5” PBA Commissioners’ Cup champ explains his latest project that doesn’t concern strategizing on the court.

He follows with a laugh, “No, really, my wife and I, when we travel, that’s the first thing we look for. We look for the best there is in town. Our honeymoon in Peru opened our eyes to Southern American cuisine and we got curious what else was offered.”

Norwood describes the menu at Naxional as “similar to Filipino food in terms of taste and ingredients used like pork instead of beef. The taste is also unique so we felt that we saw as automatically appealing to the Filipino crowd.”

Also apt for Filipino foodies, he adds, the restaurant has its food and services designed for families. The table setting covers four to five, and the kinds of platters coming straight from the kitchen serve the same number.

At Naxional, Norwood and his wife Lei Franil are partners with several others. The Norwood matriarch is more hands-on in terms of marketing, while Norwood helps in the promotion. Although, he adds, “I try my best to come in even if it’s just as simple as coming in and tasting food.”

Norwood says he has memorized the menu as part of the job. Quick to mention his favorites, he says the Puerto Rican Patacones for the appetizers, which is friend plantain “you can choose with shrimp, pork, or beef.”  For the main course, he recommends the Picanha steak “because I’m a steak guy.”

As with his first venture, Norwood says he’s “always had business in mind” as part of a long-term vision “because, for sure, you can’t play basketball forever.” He is, after all, on his eighth year in the pros.

“I had not much background in business. We always had it, but we never knew what it was whether it was a restaurant or retail. I’m kinda wishing that (Naxional) will be an extra opportunity for my wife and I. It kinda fell into our laps, so we approach it as a team and a couple.”

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