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Max’s Restaurant: an enduring Pinoy legacy

by Lucille Nolasco

Max’s Winnipeg grand opening in 2019. (L-r): John Alibin, JR Alibin, Natividad Alibin, Sheila Alibin-Bernardo, Bill Rodgers (Grandson of Maximo Gimenez, International Director), and Arnel Alibin
Chicken cutting ceremony (l-r): Frank, Arnel, Bill Rodgers, John & J
With WInnipeg Mayor, Brian Bowman
Victoria General Hospital Foundation 5th Miracle Garden Gala. From l-r: John, JR, Kito Poblah and Red Moon Media team, Arnel

Besides summer and the easing of pandemic restrictions in different parts of Canada, another thing worth celebrating this month of June is Filipino Heritage Month. This month is dedicated to highlighting the contributions that Canadians of Filipino descent have made, and continue to make, in the social, economic, political, and cultural fabric of Canada.

On the economic front, Filipino-Canadian owned businesses have been flourishing and contributing to the economic mosaic of Canada, providing jobs and security to many.

In Winnipeg, iconic global Filipino brand Max’s Restaurant is one of the Filipino-Canadian businesses that aims to preserve Filipino culture while providing top-quality products and services to all.

Hipolito Alibin, Jr. is the co-owner of Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg. He spoke recently with us at the Pilipino Express.

PE: Max’s is one of the most iconic Filipino brands recognized globally by Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. Does this put a certain amount of pressure on you to keep up the image of the brand?

HA: We are proud to represent the Filipino food in Manitoba. By keeping our Max’s recipes authentic, we maintain the same delicious Filipino food and freshness in each dish that we serve our customers. There’s a lot of variety and cooking styles with Filipino food and that makes us unique and appealing to try. At Max’s this is gives us an opportunity to also try new offerings for our kababayans.

PE: Take us back to the planning stages before Max’s Winnipeg became a reality.

HA: 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 picking up Winnipeg as their number six home in Canada. It really started as a dream to be able to bring Max’s here in Winnipeg until Grand Opening in 2019.

PE: Max’s Winnipeg is a family-run business, can you tell us the pros and cons of working with family members?

HA: We are a family first. Good business is a by-product of our group dynamic and having each contribute to our success. Everybody helps out to be successful.

PE: This month has been designated as Filipino Heritage Month in Canada. What do you think is the significance of this to Max’s and the Filipino community as a whole?

HA: 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 Winnipeg to be considered a business community leader serving authentic Philippine cuisine. We wish our Filipino community in Manitoba further growth and all the best. Max’s Winnipeg will always be there to represent the Filipino cuisine.

PE: Any special Max’s offers in celebration of Filipino Heritage Month?

HA: Yes, we have a lot. We just finished our $18.98 Max’s bundle and BOGO Halo-Halo for the Philippine Independence weekend. On June 20 we have our Father’s Day celebration and activities. Then on June 21, it’s our “Halo Summer” with the launch of Golden Halo Halo and the return of Citrus Cooler.

PE: Besides Max’s fried chicken, what are Max’s most popular dishes?

HA: 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). In our first year, 2019, we served our regular and giant-sized Halo-halo’s to 10,700 customers! For the more adventurous, try our all-time favourites: kare-kare (beef & oxtail), crispy pata (pork hock) and lechon kawali (pork belly).

PE: We are still in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. How is Max’s Winnipeg holding up? Did you have to let go of staff?

HA: We are grateful and blessed for the continued generous support of our kababayans in Winnipeg. We continue to show our appreciation by offering affordable meal bundles that’s just right for the budget. We also offer #HealthHeroes, a 15 per cent discount to all current WRHA employees and a 10 per cent discount on catering orders to businesses.

Max’s Restaurant Winnipeg is located at 1255 St. James St. Unit 1.

Due to current public health restrictions, their dining rooms are closed, but customers can still order for pick-up or delivery at 204-615-6276, on line at or through Doordash, Ubereats and Skipthedishes.