Edgar Sia's cash-out of his fast-food chain, Mang Inasal, makes him this year's youngest lister.
It started in 2003 when smalltown lad Edgar Sia II, then a 26-year-old college dropout, grabbed a tiny spot in the parking lot of a mall, the site of an upcoming food hall. As a frequent customer of McDonald's and KFC, Sia knew what he'd been missing in the fast-food scene: Filipino-style street fare served in a restaurant-type setting.
Before long customers were lining up outside Mang Inasal as word spread quickly through Iloilo City about Sia's new eatery. Its charcoal-grilled chicken served with rice wrapped in a banana leaf wasn't like anything on the menus of McDonald's ( MCD - news - people ), KFC or even Jollibee, the local burger chain. The flavors were distinctively Filipino, as was the earthy décor with wooden tables, handmade paper lamps and walls painted in orange, green and yellow.
"We really wanted to create a new category in this business, one that wasn't influenced by American food," says Sia, 34, who's often referred to by his nickname, Injap. It's a winning recipe; Mang Inasal's affordable concoctions aimed at Filipino taste buds has made it the country's third-largest fastfood chain after Jollibee and Chowking, both owned by fellow lister Tony Tan Caktiong, whose expanding food empire has made him a billionaire.
Sia's eight-year-old barbecue chain, with 380 outlets, has even overtaken McDonald's. And it has lately put him on the road to riches. Last October Jollibee, in a nod to its upstart rival, scooped up 70% of Mang Inasal for $68 million, valuing the outfit at nearly $100 million. The deal earned Sia a spot among the Philippines' wealthiest for the first time this year. With a net worth of $85 million, he's the youngest of the top 40.
Sia isn't done yet. He retains a 30% stake in Mang Inasal through Injap Investment, a family holding company in which his brother Ferdinand and sister Rizza also own shares. He and Ferdinand, who heads operations, continue to run the chain and have agreed to a three-year noncompete contract.