Many top establishments in Poblacion played a key part in the food crawl as pit stops for the participants, who were looking forward to discover the food haven’s best offers. Among the partner bars and restaurants were ABKD, Ñ, Wild Poppy, Alamat, Z Hostel, and Yalla Yalla.
During Let’s Food Crawl Pare’s culmination, Globe myBusiness spoke with the owners of its partner establishments to hear what their business secrets are and what advice they had for aspiring restaurant or bar owners dreaming of success.
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You may think that ABKD and Ñ are merely two establishments that happened to find their place on top of each other, but the two concepts were actually designed that way to provide a fully stacked experience for its guests.
ABKD, a relaxed back-to-basics restaurant, and Ñ, a modern Filipino-inspired bar, were the brainchildren of none other than Chef Lica Ibarra, a renowned chef and serial restaurateur. She says the two establishments may look different, but they are connected.
“After our guests are done with their meal at ABKD, they can go up and have a completely different feel at Ñ. There is a synergy between the two. After you eat, if you still want to have some fun and grab a few drinks, you go up,” Chef Lica explains.
According to Chef Lica, giving their guests the whole experience was the ultimate goal of ABKD and Ñ. She says it plays an important role in keeping customers, who will in turn talk about their unique offers and invite prospect guests to their business.
“Our goal really is make our guests feel like they are home. We always welcome our guests like they are really visitors coming to our home. That’s the ambiance we want. Besides our food, we want to give them the whole experience,” she says.
Eat your fill of Southeast Asian dishes at the comfort of a garden-inspired restobar in Wild Poppy’s humble abode in Poblacion. One of its co-owners Kaity Chua says Wild Poppy was designed as the place-to-be for those looking for a relaxed oasis at the end of a busy day.
Although Wild Poppy is known for its home-like vibe, the dishes and cocktails it serves let off wild Southeast Asian flavours, creating a perfect balance of sugar and spice for both the easygoing and thrill-seeking markets.
“The customer experience that we really want to give is a wild and interesting one. We want them to have a really good time. That’s one of the reasons we are located in Poblacion. We like the relaxed vibe of the neighborhood: you don’t have to dress up, wear heels, and you can just be yourself and have a good time,” Kaity shares.
She adds: “About the food, we really like wild flavors and we feel that Southeast Asian flavors are one of those. It is different, it has variety and there’s a spice to it. We also translated that to our cocktails, which complement our dishes [very well].”
No matter what your business is, location is important to keep the mill running. That’s the principle that Z Hostel kept in sight as it now becomes one of the most popular destinations for people who want to experience what Poblacion has to offer.
“A lot of establishments are opening here in Poblacion because it’s a lot cheaper to open here compared to other areas. It is also very accessible. The value proposition here is that you can walk from one place to another, unlike others where you have to drive. There are so many restaurants around just one spot,” Rommel Marasigan, Z Hostel President, said.
Z Hostel stands in the heart of Poblacion, surrounded by different restaurants and bars that sport different concepts and cuisines. Rommel says that while competition may be stiff in a tightly packed playing field like Poblacion, there’s a sense of family between establishments in the area. This makes it a fitting place for startups and first time restaurateurs to grow.
“Here, we have a so-called “coopetition,” where everyone is cooperating while competing. There are so many concepts and very few are the same; not everyone is competing directly. It’s a healthy relationship. All the owners are friends and we have this bayanihan concept,” Rommel adds.
In the age of social media, being online is a necessity. On the Internet, businesses are able to reach different markets, no matter where they are around the globe. This is what Yalla Yalla capitalized on as a restaurant that offers unique Middle Eastern cuisine.
According to Ricky Punzalan, owner of Yalla Yalla, one of the reasons they put up the restaurant is to introduce Lebanese cuisine to a bigger market. He says being present online helps them reach customers and capture new markets through reviews and recommendations.
He says their special Lebanese offers are making waves through online channels, helping their brand become more prolific. They likewise help in growing their customer base, who are largely influenced by what’s hip and new on social media platforms.
“We want our customers to be able to try Lebanese food, and social media helps us a lot in spreading the word. On Facebook, you get to connect with people in the demographic you want. There, when you recommend a place to eat, people who know them will know about it. It helps us in that way,” Ricky says.
On top of being one of the most hospitable nationalities in the world, Filipinos have one of the most profound and exciting cuisines. This is what Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli is demonstrating as it packs reinvented local dishes and drinks with its homey restaurant in Poblacion.
Cassandra Laus, co-owner of Alamat, says that the concept behind the restaurant was rooted from their team’s drive to show people the value of loving their own culture. Besides putting its own twist to well-known Filipino dishes, Alamat also offers original local craft beer, which was sourced from different regions of the Philippines.
“We want to show how cool the Filipino culture is and how awesome our ingredients are. It’s not being highlighted enough, which is why we put up a bar that centers on our culture. We offer a fun way to know the Filipino culture and the people behind it,” Cassandra says.
“We want to inspire our fellow Filipinos to love our own more. Hopefully, if they are to put up their own bars or their own concepts, they adopt a local inspiration,” she adds.
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Entitled Let’s Food Crawl Pare, the event brought together business owners, bloggers, members of the press, and Globe representatives to participate in a restaurant and bar hopping journey around Poblacion to see what it has to offer.
With The Ruins as the starting point of the food crawl, each of the six teams would have to visit five more partner establishments and create a short video about their experience. Teams would also have to complete certain tasks in each destination to get a go signal to the next one.
All-time Poblacion favorites like Alamat, Ñ, ABKD, Smokeyard, Yalla Yalla, Bucky’s, Wild Poppy, Pura Vida, and Z Hostel were among the participating bars and restaurants, and these establishments would feature and share their best dishes and drinks to the participants.
During the event’s culmination, Debbie Obias, Vice President of Segment Marketing at Globe myBusiness, says Let’s Food Crawl Pare would not be possible without the help of its partners. She adds that one of Globe myBusiness’ goals is empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) towards success, saying that the event is one of the ways they can play such a part.
“We are always in support of SMEs and we hope to contribute to the growing, thriving food tourism sector. We are really here to be one of your best business partners,” Debbie says. “We really want to help SMEs grow, and we do this by providing business solutions. This helps them to be more efficient in their operations, while we lend a hand in their marketing efforts.”
Among the Globe myBusiness solutions that were highlighted during the food crawl was GCash, a secure mobile money service that lets Globe or TM users buy load, purchase items, send and receive money, pay bills, and more using their handsets. It turns mobile devices into virtual wallets, eliminating the need to bring cash while elevating customers’ shopping experiences.
Participating establishments in the food crawl accepted payment via GCash, which helped them elevate the customer experience in two ways: 1.) by providing a secure and fast way to settle their patrons’ bills, and; 2.) by helping their customers go cashless as they partied around Poblacion.
Meanwhile, at the close of the event, the winning team’s on-the-spot video was played for everyone to see. The team won P9,000 pesos worth of GCash credits, along with other prizes from Globe myBusiness, Let’s Eat Pare, and PLUD.
Celebrity and former Pinoy Big Brother contestant Joj Agpangan, who was part of the winning team, says the Let’s Food Crawl Pare was an experience she will never forget. Joj says that each establishment in Poblacion has unique offerings that people should definitely try out.
“Poblacion is really the place to be with friends. I’ll be here more often. Every place has something unique to provide, like The Apartment, Ñ, and Wild Poppy. Each of them serves a different taste, parang naikot ko na rin iyong buong Makati because of the food,” Joj says.
Joj also mentioned that participating in the food crawl helped her piece together the qualities of a perfect restaurant or bar, saying “I live nearby but I haven’t gone around, so I didn’t know where to go. Before, I didn’t have an idea of what food or drink I should get. But now, I do. The places we went to have very delicious dishes and I’d recommend them to others.”
Asked about what tip she would give to people hoping to see Poblacion, Joj said “If you’re in Poblacion, enjoy it. Try something new to your senses and it will surprise you every time.”
See what Poblacion has to offer by joining Let’s Eat Pare’s Facebook group and checking out the videos created by the participating teams. Step out and support the food tourism industry by bringing your family and friends, and experiencing Makati’s premier food district together!
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