A Deep Dive Into Metro Manila's Evolving Dining Scene

September 25, 2020 | Source:

By Elaine Nuestro
June 26, 2020

Some restaurants have reopened for dine-in after three long months, and there are new rules to comply with. F&B industry leaders John Rice, Tippi Tambunting, Carlo Lorenzana, and Alain Borgers speak up:

For someone who enjoys food, dining out is one of the many "normal" things I used to do (a lot of) before the world turned upside down. But, sadly the pandemic has forced most of us to stay at home and has many of our favourite activities including dining out and travel have been deeply affected, unexpectedly and in many ways.

As restaurants reopen their doors, I picked the brains of seasoned restaurateurs and industry leaders to find out how they are adapting to the new normal, and to learn what they think is next for the dining scene in the country.

"People are scared to go out because of the virus it is still around. People have made so much effort in three months to stay away so they will think twice before even deciding to go out. Especially the people who are going to high end restaurants like metronome for example. Little coffee shops and smaller establishments may have it different. But with high end restaurants targeting the A and B market, I am not sure if it is a priority of our guests to go out; especially with take-out systems, people can enjoy a decent dinner at home" shares Alain Borgers, partner at Metronome (Tatler Dining's Best New Restaurant of 2020).

Precautionary Measures

Under the dine-in guidelines issued last 1 June 2020 by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), restaurants and fast food chains are allowed to resume dine-in operations starting 15 June 2020. Due to the strict implementation of social distancing, the restaurants' dine-in capacity has been reduced to 30 per cent in areas under General Community Quarantine (GCQ). Seats should be placed in a way that it is at least one metre apart from other adjacent seating while long tables that used to accommodate 10 diners is now limited to only five. On top of that, tables with face-to-face seating arrangements must also have acrylic barriers between diners. Times really have changed! 

Such requirements may sound negative for restaurants whose usual capacity is limited to begin with. Many need to adapt; to transform their spaces to bigger areas, such as extending to an al fresco dining set-up. La Cabrera and Txoko Asador | Restaurante co-owner, Carlo Calma Lorenzana, is grateful for having ample space in his restaurants, enabling them to accommodate relatively more diners despite the strict guidelines. "We have the luxury of making wider spaces between tables and staff since the format of our restaurants provides more spacious areas. All La Cabrera outposts and our newest concept, Txoko Asador | Restaurante are roomy with open spaces. We also benefit from having al fresco dining areas in La Cabrera in 6750, Makati, as well as in Bar Pintxos BGC. We expect these areas to be more attractive during these times," he says.