The Friday Photo: Hobbit House

Hobbit House Manila-6

This is Hobbit House, Manila, a regular on lists of the world’s weirdest restaurants.

It seems, at first blush, like an absolutely horrible concept: a Hobbit-themed bar staffed almost entirely by little people. But it isn’t. These are the staff.

Staff at Hobbit House, Manila, beside the Burrow door.

They’re also the owners, now that Jim, the Peace Corps dude who set up Hobbit House in 1973, is old enough to be contemplating what happens when he’s gone. This is him:

Jim, the owner of Hobbit House, in front of a Fellowship of the Ring artwork.

And this is Ali, the front of house, who’s raising five kids on his earnings here.

Alejandro Doron of Hobbit House, Manila.
Pidoy, the oldest of the team, is both consultant and director at Hobbit House. “When I was young, with my disability I was never expected to work,” he told me. “Now I have a wife, and two children, both of them through college.”

And sometimes, in the developing world, it really is that simple.

4 Responses

  1. Katie says:

    Interesting. All my instincts scream exploitation, but actually, if it’s providing work that wouldn’t otherwise be available… Why not? I think that issues like this are all about attitude. If there’s an attitude of opportunity, it’s not malicious and nobody is offended – then great. And it looks like such a quirky place!

    • Theodora says:

      Well, for me it was the fact that the staff now owned the venue that made it unproblematic. Or… less problematic. The guy who set it up did so because he thought it was a way to help a specific group in society after doing his Peace Corps, though I don’t think a volunteer 40 years on would have had the same approach. Employment rates among people with disabilities in the Philippines are minuscule, and little people face huge discrimination, so I think it’s on balance a good thing, much as it grates on the instincts…

  2. One of the few articles I have found featuring my favorite restaurant. The first time I went there, I assumed the food would be horrible as the draw was geared around the little people. They have the best steaks in town and the entertainment is generally mellow and awesome. Highly recommended for dinner and drinks, and the little people just happen to make the place fun.

    • Theodora says:

      That’s nice to know, thanks. We didn’t eat there, but I’d definitely go back to their place on Boracay and try the food there.