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Breaking Barriers: A Filipino Entrepreneur's Extraordinary Journey from Poverty to Restaurant Owners

Growing up in the slums of the Philippines, Jenny Segalowitz experienced the harsh realities of poverty and hunger. Her challenging childhood shaped her determination to succeed and led her to seize an opportunity in Abu Dhabi, where she embarked on a remarkable journey as an entrepreneur. From humble beginnings, she now owns and operates Mukbang Shows Restaurant, a Korean barbecue and seafood eatery that has gained immense popularity in the UAE.

Segalowitz's childhood was marked by the constant struggle to find food for her large family. Selling anything from garbage to vegetables became a means of survival. At the age of 10, she worked as a housemaid to secure regular meals and purchase her school uniform. These early hardships instilled in her a strong work ethic and a deep appreciation for the value of food.

Inspired by the global trend of mukbang, a South Korean phenomenon where hosts interact with their audience while consuming copious amounts of food, Segalowitz named her restaurant Mukbang Shows. The restaurant offers an array of à la carte dishes, but its standout feature is the live barbecue concept, allowing customers to grill their own unlimited selection of meats. With over seven side dishes accompanying the Unlimited Korean BBQ, Mukbang Shows Restaurant provides a unique and immersive dining experience.

Segalowitz and her husband, Doug Segalowitz, recognized a demand for affordable Korean restaurants in Abu Dhabi. They seized the opportunity to open Mukbang Shows Restaurant, which quickly gained popularity, especially as COVID-19 restrictions began to ease and people sought new experiences. The success of their first branch led to the opening of a larger second branch on Electra Street, with plans underway for a third branch in Dubai. The couple also intends to explore franchising opportunities, with interest already pouring in from various countries.

Despite the resounding success, Segalowitz remains grounded and remembers the arduous path she traveled to reach this point. She worked multiple jobs, including at Dunkin' Donuts, to put herself through college and ensure she never went hungry again. After facing personal struggles, such as an abusive marriage and financial setbacks, Segalowitz rebuilt her life through resilience and entrepreneurship.

Her meeting with her now-husband, Doug, sparked a new chapter in her life. Encouraged by his support, she decided to pursue her dream of opening a restaurant. In January 2021, Mukbang Shows Restaurant became a reality, and despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, it thrived.

Segalowitz's vision extends beyond her restaurant's success. Inspired by the blessings she has received, she aims to make a difference in the lives of others. Through partnerships with organizations in the Philippines, she is working to provide educational opportunities for underprivileged children living in slums. Having experienced firsthand the transformative power of someone reaching out and changing her life, Segalowitz seeks to continue that cycle of blessing.

From her humble beginnings of selling trash to survive, Jenny Segalowitz exemplifies the indomitable spirit and unwavering faith that can turn a life of poverty into one of triumph. Her journey serves as an inspiration to others, reminding them that with determination, endurance, and self-belief, even the most impossible dreams can become a reality.


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