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Two great bars, one fab name |

Young Star

Two great bars, one fab name

MEANWHILE - Michelle Katigbak -

Whether you are talking about a fun, tropical respite from the hustle and bustle of the Makati city lifestyle or a friendly neighborhood backyard bar, the name 121 is what should be on your lips, because that is exactly what it is… both of them! Yes, 121 — both on Salcedo and in Allegro on Pasong Tamo Extension — is the same great bar with good food and good music in two different locations offering young and old alike a venue to relax, have a drink, meet up with friends, and basically just have a great time.

“When we opened 121 on Salcedo, we wanted an almost beach-y feel for the place,” co-owner Brian Banta explains. “We were really going for a tropical respite from the urban jungle that is Makati. A place where people could go to relax and have a meal and a drink in a comfortable environment that might help them forget the stress and hassles of work and city life.”

Indeed, 121 Grille and Bar is all about a fun and friendly environment and that is quite appropriate since it was conceptualized by two good friends. Brian and Marco Alcantara went to high school and college together and returned to the Philippines at the same time from the US. Back in college the two friends had talked about opening their own bar (as most college kids do), but had never really thought they would do it. But then, when the opportunity to do so presented itself, they jumped at it. When looking for a name for their first venture (in Salcedo Village) they originally wanted some type of variation on the word “bamboo” (bambu) but all of those names had already been registered. With the need to get the business started and the time pressure they decided, quite on the spur of the moment, to name the place after the address where it was opening: 121 L.P. Leviste St.

“It was a quick decision, but one that we’ve never regretted,” Brian says. “After a while, we realized that 121 (pronounced one-to-two, not one-twenty-one), had a nice ring to it and a level of familiarity that customers liked so when we opened our second branch on Pasong Tamo Extension, the name stuck even though it has nothing to do with the address of that location.”

Indeed, after four successful years in Salcedo Village, the partners behind 121 including Brian, Marco and Jasmine Medina decided it was time to expand. They chanced upon a great location nearby on Pasong Tamo Extension — a venue that had previously been a bar and restaurant. They simply added their own touch to the venue giving it the same tropical beach feel and turned it into their own signature backyard bar and restaurant catering to office workers and patrons from neighboring villages. The new venue includes seats for over 200 people, a function room for private parties or events complete with a karaoke system, two outdoor spaces, and three 42-inch televisions.

“We really wanted 121 Allegro to be comfortable for everyone no matter what their profession,” Brian explains. “I think people like coming to 121 because they get great value for money coupled with ambience they enjoy,” he adds. To be sure, 121 has great welcoming ambience, while also offering delicious food and drinks that are not only appetizing but competitively priced as well. During lunch hours they offer rice bowl lunches for P99 with free iced tea. They also have happy hour from 5 to 9 p.m. with San Mig Light available for P210 a bucket and a “buy one, take one” offer on house cocktails. My personal favorites on their menu include the really yummy chicken teppanyaki and the chicken kebab — all with their secret special sauce!

And their food and drinks aren’t the only things keeping customers coming back for more. Alongside a comfy venue, good food, and fun company, 121 Allegro constantly keeps it fresh and gives their patrons fun games and entertaining live acts to keep them laughing, joking and singing all night. On Tuesdays, they host Quiz Night which is a fun “Battle of the Brains” evening with customers forming teams and battling it out to be the Quiz Night champions. It’s a lot of fun and can get pretty competitive with people on their feet heckling each other and working hard to get the right answers. After all, mixing trivia with alcohol consumption sure makes for a lively interactive audience. It’s a lot of fun, and I — along with family and friends — have got my eye on the 121 Quiz Night prize!

They’ve also got fun and entertaining acoustic sessions with Norby David of Overtone on Wednesdays and Nino Alejandro of NATF on Fridays. On Thursday, it’s another crowd pleaser — Live Karaoke Night, where glam rock band NATF lend their instrumental prowess to volunteers from the crowd who want to front the group for the night and belt our their favorite songs. It’s a lot fun, allowing customers to be a lead singer for the night and fulfill all their music star fantasies! Some great performances include hits from U2, Poison, Stone Temple Pilots, Natalie Imbruglia, The Killers, and even Madonna’s classic Like a Virgin!

“We really wanted to be diverse when planning activities and even the menu of 121,” Brian explains. “We’re really proud of everything we have to offer and all the choices we give to our patrons. That was really our goal, to constantly keep our customers happy and coming back. We’ve got lots of new activities in the works including looking for ways to support the neighborhood by putting together activities that involve the surrounding businesses. That’s definitely something to look out for.”

So, on your next night out or your next happy hour, if you are looking for a fun, friendly neighborhood hangout look no further than 121 — a great venue for music, singing, eating, dancing, and basically just having fun! Whether you are chilling over a drink at 121 Salcedo or enjoying fun games and live entertainment at 121 Allegro, you’ll definitely have a great time. As Brian puts it “Come check us out, you won’t regret it!”

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