BAR­GAIN HUNT

FROM CON­VE­NIENCE STORE FRIED CHICKEN TO SISIG ARANCINI AND JOLLIJEEP SUSHI, OUR IDEA OF QUICK AND ECO­NOM­I­CAL FOOD IS EVOLV­ING

F&B World - - CONTENTS - Text by JA­CLYN CLE­MENTE- KOPPE Pho­tos by RG MEDESTOMAS

To sell cheap food, you have to com­ply with cer­tain stan­dards, like qual­ity in­gre­di­ents and air-con­di­tioned spa­ces

There was a time when din­ing on a bud­get meant mak­ing your way to the clos­est fast food joint, carinde­ria, or mall food court. Qual­ity was not a pri­or­ity then: Dry burg­ers and oily ulam were given a pass on the premise that they are, after all, cheap. Crea­ture com­forts such as am­bi­ence and cool ven­ti­la­tion are low on the pri­or­ity list with the un­der­stand­ing that peo­ple who choose to pay less should not ex­pect such lux­u­ries. How­ever, young en­trepreneurs know that ad­just­ments need to be made to cater to a more de­mand­ing— en­ti­tled, some say— mar­ket.

MAK­ING SPACE

Walk­ing into In­dus­trie Food Loft, or any of the many food parks/ halls pop­ping up all over Manila, will il­lus­trate how lo­cal din­ers these days are less for­giv­ing and ex­pect so much more for their hard- earned peso. Mae­mae Lachica, mar­ket­ing and PR for In­dus­trie, ex­plains how three broth­ers and their sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers pooled to­gether their re­spec­tive spe­cial­ties to come up with the well- cu­rated space de­signed by Lau­ren Lau­dico. “My hus­band Kevin and his broth­ers ( Ken and Kirby) are in con­struc­tion,” ex­plains Lachica. “When they found out this space ( at City Golf Plaza, Or­ti­gas) was avail­able, they thought it would be a good idea to turn it into a food hall. But, with all our com­bined knowl­edge and re­sources, we were able to come up with some­thing won­der­ful.” An­gela Lachica is in charge of ad­min­is­tra­tion and com­pletes the team.

The in­dus­trial de­sign of the space is sur­pris­ingly warm, and its to­tal look is co­he­sive de­spite the di­ver­sity of the food of­fered. The vibe is young and en­er­getic with­out ex­clud­ing cer­tain de­mo­graph­ics. The space is invit­ing and evoca­tive of the vi­brant and cre­ative spirit be­hind it. This is noth­ing like your old- fash­ioned food court with harsh flu­o­res­cent light­ing and vinyl ta­ble tops. “It’s also about the ex­pe­ri­ence,” Lachica points out.

FLA­VOR WISE

While am­bi­ence is vi­tal in this new so­cial me­dia- driven world, good food re­mains the an­chor of any food- re­lated en­deavor. This is what has peo­ple lin­ing up out­side Mini Stop branches dur­ing lunch break for or­ders of their South­ern- style fried chicken meals. With its fla­vor­ful, crispy skin and juicy meat, plus gravy rem­i­nis­cent of that of a pop­u­lar Philip­pine- bred chain, the of­fice crowd and night owls look­ing for a hang­over fix swear by it.

Qual­ity is also the driv­ing force be­hind Jorge Men­dez’s Ohayo Sushi. Men­dez and his brother- in- law Mikko Cayetano are pep­per­ing Que­zon City’s busy streets with their Jollijeep- like sushi bars. Their first spot along To­mas Mo­rato was such a huge hit with the work­ing- class pedes­tri­ans and late- night rev­el­ers that it sprouted in sev­eral other street cor­ners in the area. Con­trary to pre­con­ceived no­tions that sushi bars are fussy, Men­dez ad­mits that it’s ac­tu­ally a rather straight­for­ward op­er­a­tion “with the right in­gre­di­ents, equip­ment, and, of course, sup­pli­ers.” Men­dez and Cayetano have taken it upon them­selves to bring good Ja­panese food to the masses, so don’t ex­pect the pre- pack­aged su­per­mar­ket va­ri­ety. What they of­fer is sashimi, maki, and ni­giri pre­pared on the spot upon or­der­ing. And, based on the lines late at night, peo­ple seem to ap­pre­ci­ate the ex­tra ef­fort.

This is the kind of pas­sion ex­pected from vi­brant youth, and it comes as no sur­prise that young en­trepreneurs are be­hind this move­ment. Sib­lings Marco and Kyla Olives are the team be­hind In­dus­trie’s Bro­ken Oven, a spin- off of Marco’s home- based food or­der op­er­a­tion The Olive Treat. A per­ma­nent stall in the food loft has proven to be more chal­leng­ing for ob­vi­ous rea­sons, but the twen­tysome­thing Oliveses are driven by their love for food and cook­ing. “I think most of the stall own­ers in In­dus­trie have other jobs or busi­nesses,” Kyla ob­serves. “This is re­ally a pas­sion pro­ject for us.”

This pas­sion is also what drives them to set them­selves apart from the thou­sands of food busi­nesses open­ing ev­ery year. The prod­uct mix at In­dus­trie ranges from Ne­grense break­fast fare to mod­ern Ja­panese. A good ex­am­ple is Bro­ken Oven’s menu, which is rooted in Marco’s pop­u­lar roasts, es­pe­cially Cebu- style le­chon belly. They do rice meals dif­fer­ently here with their aranci­nis. With fla­vors like le­chon truf­fle and chicken adobo balls en­cased in crispy chicken skin, they’re clever, handy, and, most es­pe­cially, quite tasty. “Imag­ine if we start of­fer­ing these in cin­e­mas,” Kyla of­fers. “It is no longer im­pos­si­ble to have a full rice meal while watch­ing a movie!”

The fam­ily that runs In­dus­trie also sees their ven­ture more as a cre­ative out­let and a space where they can gather with fam­ily and friends. With the other stall own­ers, they have formed a rather tightknit com­mu­nity that views each other’s en­deav­ors as a col­lec­tive ef­fort rather than un­healthy com­pe­ti­tion. “We even all play golf to­gether now,” Lachica shares.

LOW MAIN­TE­NANCE

What makes food halls click? Af­ford­able food is a given, and the prom­ise of an abun­dance of choices in a com­fort­able set­ting is ob­vi­ously a pop­u­lar draw. For en­trepreneurs like the Oliveses who are look­ing to bring their busi­ness to the next level and are test­ing the waters for ex­pan­sion, their stall in In­dus­trie pro­vides them di­rect ac­cess to their cus­tomers. “The re­ac­tion we get here is im­me­di­ate, un­like with food or­ders wherein you of­ten don’t re­ally get feed­back about your prod­uct,” Kyla con­fesses. “In In­dus­trie, the stall own­ers have tweaked their menus many times over since we opened. Kasi nga we get to re­act eas­ily to the feed­back of our cus­tomers. We have re­moved and added dishes, de­pend­ing on what works and what doesn’t.” The low over­head al­lows for min­i­mal com­mit­ment, leav­ing a com­fort­able room for these en­trepreneurs to be cre­ative and open to ad­just­ments.

Filipinos have al­ways been fa­mously de­mand­ing in terms of food ser­vice, re­gard­less of price. It’s safe to as­sume that this stems from our cul­ture of hos­pi­tal­ity where we like see­ing our guests full and be­yond sat­is­fied. The same, there­fore, is ex­pected of the food ser­vice in­dus­try when din­ing out. While food parks are a way for busi­ness own­ers to es­chew elec­tric­ity ex­penses, it’s prov­ing to be a hard sell. “For most stall own­ers and guests, air- con­di­tion­ing is still a must,” Lachica shares. “The harsh weather is re­ally a deal breaker here. Peo­ple just re­ally want to be com­fort­able while eat­ing their food.” But, as Men­dez stresses, noth­ing beats value- for- money food. “Any­thing cheap will sell,” he con­fesses, “but to be able to sell some­thing cheap but with high qual­ity takes it to a dif­fer­ent level.”

Filipinos have al­ways been fa­mously de­mand­ing in terms of food ser­vice, re­gard­less of price. It’s safe to as­sume that this stems from our cul­ture of hos­pi­tal­ity where we like see­ing our guests full and be­yond sat­is­fied.

(This page, top) Marco and Kyla Olives of Bro­ken Oven; Fin­ish­ing touch on Ohayo’s sal­mon aburi.

(Op­po­site page, clock­wise) Bro­ken Oven’s of­fer­ings in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar aranci­nis; Mae­mae Lachica of In­dus­trie Food Loft; Ohayo, lo­cated along the stretch of To­mas Mo­rato, is like a more con­ducive and wel­com­ing Jollijeep.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.