BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Thomas Sproten and his wife, Bom Bee, looked happy as they arrived at Coffee Culture’s drive-through kiosk, a first that serves locally-roasted native coffee sourced mostly from local growers in the island. at BazKet Bacolod inside the old Coca Cola plant along Lacson Street here.
Nearby, a server of a Mexican food booth does a mise en place, preparing ingredients for the tacos and burritos she is expected to roll out soon.
Across it, the booth of Merzci Pasalubong was already open, decked out with the pasalubong products it is famous for.
Dennis Villanueva’s Ho Mei Do was close today but he sold out his signature roasted Peking ducks in the first three days, one of BazKet’s operations manager, Manolito del Castillo told DNX.
Near noon, a motley crowd started to come in through the side entrance along 15th Street, some looking like college students who came in groups, some parents with children in tow – a mix of the young and the not so young.
The young ones make a beeline for the milktea shop and Mexican food stall, the mature-looking ones mill around, looking for a cuisine of their choice among the
Manolito sounded happy, even ecstatic, for the turn out of the first few days.
The parking space that was free for the first three days, was filled to its 240-car capacity, Manolito said while the 400-seat covered area where the stalls are located was filled to twice its seating limit, Jan Desmund Lim, another operations manager added.
At least 28 of the 33 locators opened last Friday and some, like a smoked meats stall owned by a popular Negrense chef, are still preparing for launch.
After more than two years since this city of more than 600,000 went under health restrictions brought by a pandemic, homegrown businesses – micro and small ones, especially – are starting to come out after an extended period of home-based operations for most of them.
Some are also start ups, like Sipud, a stall that, as the name implies, serves mainly seafood.
Manolito said businessman Francis Desales who thought of putting up BazKet has also decided to put up a Farmers Market to help small farmers.
“The fresh produce are being sourced from a lot of small farmers. Aside from being accessible, the prices at Farmers Market are competitive and reasonable compared to that in wet markets,” Manolito added.
It’s been just three days since BazKet Bacolod opened and Manolito and Desmund are thinking of ways to keep more people interested in going to the place.
“We have a lot in store,” Desmund said.
In the meantime, Manolito is happy.
BazKet Bacolod was created to give homegrown enterprises a venue for their products and, in the process, help local businessmen.
And it seems to have done that in only three days.
“When they told us they are happy, we felt happy, too,” Manolito said.