Arman Santos
Arman Santos

The Filipino Star News heard a few weeks ago a report about the sale of Royal Kubo, a popular restaurant-karaoke in Clarkston, which was founded some 15 years ago by Filipino-American businessman Arman Santos. To get the facts straight from the horse’s mouth, we interviewed Mr. Santos.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Cites reasons why popular restaurant-karaoke bar was sold [/box]

Following are the questions (Q) and answers (A):

Q: Some people who learned about the sale of Royal Kubo are asking what is the principal reason you sold it. Was it losing? Or did you simply get tired of the karaoke-restaurant business?

A: If two percent of Filipinos patronize a Filipino business, that business will thrive. The notion that Kubo is losing is pure “tsismis” from no-gooders who probably did not and will never patronize us. I am proud of Royal Kubo, being a Filipino venture, the fact that it is built in a downtown area, built by Filipino craftsmanship, designed as a Filipino establishment, and located in a Filipino-owned building. Typical of some Filipinos to wish a Filipino business bad, but no, we did not lose. We were in business for 15 years and we were mainstream restaurant and bar, not just an ethnic establishment. Filipino customers are hard to please. We had our share of unreasonable demands, complaints and criticisms. But we had more praises and appreciation. We had a very loyal patronage that included not only Filipinos but also different nationalities. These loyal patrons will always be appreciated as they are the spirit of Kubo. At the start of 2012 or so, we slowly changed to an American bar cuisine with the sale of Kubo in mind. Customers had changed and karaoke is not on top of their (entertainment) list now. We had to change image or sell. Since I have nothing to prove anymore, and the body aches are more pronounced, I decided to sell.

Q: Some of Royal Kubo’s regular customers felt sad about the sale. What could you tell them?

A: These are our loyal customers. I thank them for having enjoyed Kubo as much as I did. I offered Kubo for sale by word of mouth to Filipinos but there were no takers. I wish it would have been a Filipino owner.

Q: At how much did you sell it? 

A: It is a known fact that Kubo was built at about three quarters of a million. The economy plummeted about 2008, but we held our own even during these tough economic times.

Q: Did you make a profit from the sale?

A: For the past 15 years, we had annual sales of half what we spent, which transposed to millions total. Kubo had given a living to Filipino employees who otherwise would not have found jobs in those poor economic times. We profited financially from the sale, but the profit I most care about is having shown the bar and restaurant business community that a Filipino establishment can shine in the mainstream business. We were featured in Crain’s, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, TV stations, radio stations and is known in other states. We were dubbed Best Karaoke Bar for a few years. We were then the only Philippine restaurant listed in the restaurant guides. (There are some others listed now). When Michigan Filipinos had visitors, they brought them first to Kubo.

Q: You had earlier said that a Filipino group wanted to buy it, but the group felt that the price was too high. Is this correct?

A: Some of our kababayans had no notion of how much capital is needed for a venture like this, and how much money and hard work it takes to start one.

Q: Were you able to sell it at the price you offered to the Filipino group? Or is it close to it?

A: I had four offers to purchase in the first one-and-half month without advertising, and I got my asking price with a slight discount.

Q: Is the deal for the sale already finalized? Did you sell it on terms?

A: The sale is completed and finalized. It is cash and terms.

Q: Will the new owners still operate it as a restaurant-karaoke bar? Will they change the name?

A: It is now an Irish pub named Dooley’s.

Q: You said you are now in the financial planning business. How can prospective clients get in touch with you? 

A: I have always been in the financial planning business for 38 years. I am serving existing clients who have been with me for a long time. Most of them are retired. I make sure that any economic downturn does not affect their assets. I also am consulted by soon-to-retire individuals to make sure that they are making the correct decision on how to choose their retirement package. After 38 years in the business, I currently have a total life insurance in force face amount client base of $27 million. These policies had helped most of my clients family when death occurs. They can contact me at [email protected] and/or phone no. 248-351-3631.


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