The Holycow Steakhouse chain has gained huge success in the past years. To date, they have six outlets and will soon open in Bali. They are known for their great quality steaks at affordable prices. Aside from the business side of the success story, many don’t know that the secret behind Holycow! Steakhouse success is actually chemistry between its owners, the husband and wife team, Afit Purwanto and Lucy Wiryono.
Lunchtime at Holycow! Steakhouse is always chaotic yet pleasant. At one of their latest outlet on Jalan Wolter Monginsidi, lunchtime becomes a mixture between cacophonous laughter from office workers catching up with juicy gossip and the sound of enjoyment coming from patrons eating their well-prepared medium-rare wagyu steaks. Although the latter isn’t really a sound, but more of polite chatter as diners admire and relish their steaks. Together with lovely smiles across their faces, of course. One can sense right away that Holycow! Steakhouse is indeed a successful business filled with so much energy and potential.
And under these busy circumstances, Afit Purwanto and Lucy Wiryono welcomed us warmly and we all sat together alongside their two lovely daughters while enjoying, what else, but our steaks.
As I speak to them, It seems the word struggle has become an often used word to describe the couple’s journey since the day they met years ago. Well, it’s not really about how long Afit had to wait until Lucy finally agreed to start a relationship, but it was more like how far they have gone through that brought them finally to reach this point where they enjoy the success of both their marriage and the business.
Years ago, it was all started with Afit being a huge fan of a radio station program hosted by Lucy with Melanie Ricardo. Melanie happened to be Afit’s friend, and one day, after meeting her, Afit said to send his regards to Lucy. Melanie took the cue and as fate would have it, decided to play matchmaker. The came a first date, then soon after, as Afit and Lucy discovered that they shared many interesting things, together with good chemistry, they started their relationship.
Everything was going well for several months until suddenly Afit hit a brick wall as the company he was working for went bankrupt and his father succumbed to his illness just around the same time. “That was the time when I knew that this is the guy I wanted to be with for the rest of my life. “Afit proved to me that he was a survivor, he struggled to get through it all and came out as the winner”, reveals Lucy.
Of course it wasn’t easy for Afit to ready himself again and move on to the next level. “Well, I had so much on my plate back then. Before this, Lucy stated that this relationship should lead to somewhere but then not long after, I lost my job and my father. I couldn’t even pay my phone bills at the time!’, added Afit reminiscing about the hard times.
Nevertheless life had to go on. Both of them knew that there was an urge to bring the relationship to a new level, until finally Afit sealed the deal in a rather unconventional way. Lucy remembered that day and shares with a wry smile directed at Afit, “He said to me all of a sudden, ‘So let’s just get marry then’ just before I was about to get out of his car on my way to work!”
We went off laughing about how ‘romantic’ his proposal was. It was a bold move but they benefitted a lot from the marriage that took place not long after. Afit got a new job in a TV station and Lucy, who by that time also worked as a TV presenter, got pregnant also.
Afit can’t hide his admiration toward his lovely wife and said to us, “When it comes to principles, Lucy is a very stern person and keeps her dignity intact although we all know about the temptations of working in show business”. He continued, “After our baby was born, she made it clear that she didn’t want a babysitter and she wanted to take care of the baby on her own”.
After a series of ups and downs, to start and promote Holycow!, now they can finally enjoy the fruits of their labor. “The best thing about having a spouse as your business partner is that you can share your thoughts every time and no matter how shocking my business ideas are, there’s always check and balance process from Lucy and it all ends up well-decided’, said Afit proudly.
Steering away from business talks, since we know that both Afit and Lucy are avid foodies, we gravitate to our favorite topic. They have common favorites, Afit and Lucy agree on several places like Ayam Taliwang on Jalan Panglima Polim, a hidden humble eatery in Pamulang that serves really good lamb satay and their favorite Chinese buffet at Table 8 of Hotel Mulia Senayan. But what’s quite revealing are where they disagree. “He likes eating durian a lot but I don’t really like it. On the contrary, I have a sweet tooth and am a dessert lover, while doesn’t really care about desserts at all!’, said Lucy.
They talk about their guilty pleasures in unison. They both once in a while really enjoy gulai gajeboh from Minangnese cuisine which basically is a curry of extremely fatty beef brisket.
‘Well we also enjoy our Betawi-style homemade gulai cincang and we’ll cook it for you guys some other time’, Afit said brimming from ear to ear, especially when it comes to talking about his favorite foods.
To close our enjoyable lunch chat, we asked the pair about their future plans. ‘Well, Afit is thinking to venture into something different in the next few years to come but still adopting the same principle like Holycow! and that is to give value but in an affordable way’.
Afit appeared really hyped when it comes to talking about the plans and upon seeing how they’re meant for each other, we are very sure that Lucy will always be the energy behind his limitless creativity.
Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE February 2014 edition
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Photos by: Dennie Benedict