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Since food doesn’t go out of style, backers hope food courts don’t either

THE WORLD is certainly opening up again after all the pandemic-related restrictions and closures. So much so that it’s even resurrecting a concept from the previous decade, the food park.

Last week, BusinessWorld went to taste around Buendia Food by the Court, which brings two pastimes together: food, and basketball. Paul Elauria, President of the Subic Bay Development and Industrial Estate Corp. that built both the food park and the basketball court back in 2017, said, “We planned on something that will be productive and income-generating,” recalling the days when the plot of land along Sen. G. Puyat Ave had been fallow. “Filipinos love to play basketball, and then they love to eat. Why don’t we combine basketball and food?”

It had been doing quite well, with lines snaking into it day and night (because of the games and the food), but pandemic restrictions in 2020 closed it down, and has just reopened in 2023.

There were only about a handful of merchants during the soft opening party, but we had gotten our fill. A lot of Asian cuisines were represented, such as Korean in Samgyup to Go, and several Filipino offerings by Kanto Pares, sharing space with sister restaurants Happon Ramen House, Chicken Stop PH, and X Rancho Grill. There’s also seafood from Above Sea Level, Japanese treats from Crazy Sushi, sandwiches from Sky317, sizzling things from Grill Fry Experience, and more chicken from MonsterWings.

We had the Bone Marrow Pares from Kanto Pares, the Tapa Wrap from X Rancho Grill, and the Curry Ramen from Happon. We were quite satisfied (friends asked to be brought to Kanto Pares after seeing a picture of the torched bone marrow), and not one of the meals cost more than P250.

The food park straddles the Makati communities of Palanan and San Isidro, which Mr. Elauria describes as middle- to upper-middle class.

In choosing the merchants, he said, “Anything attractive to this type of market. But also, we cater to the workers in the Makati CBD (Central Business District),” which is just about one kilometer away (he says that some of the office workers just walk). “After office, especially during paydays and birthdays,” he said. “Ordinary food lang naman (it’s just ordinary food).”

The food park concept really kicked off in the early 2010s, but the concept was slowly reaching the end of its rope by 2018. One might think the pandemic would see it off, but the desire for open eating spaces for safety reasons might be making food parks fashionable again. Mr. Elauria, when asked about the return of food parks, said, “We cannot tell at this time. It’s very early. The world only normalized not more than three, four months ago. We only opened it now,” he said in a mixture of English and Filipino. “Because it’s open air, maybe we have some advantage,” he noted.

“Food doesn’t go out of style. We just have to keep the quality very good.”

Buendia Food by the Court is located at 24 Sen. G Puyat Ave. corner Bautista and Finlandia Streets, and is open from 5 p.m. to midnight. — Joseph L. Garcia

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