Food bazaar slowly reopens with pickup, delivery options
Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - August 12, 2020 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  The Sugbo Mercado Group is opening its food market sites in Cebu IT Park and Ayala Center Cebu today, as Cebu City is now under General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

Sugbo Mercado Food Bazaar Inc., (SMFBI) managing director John Paul Chiongbian announced in a virtual conference in order to respond to the call of times.

Under the “new world”, the management has carefully designed a new normal dining experience, which will be a mixed of dine in, pick-up and delivery services via online platforms.

For this week, all vendors in the Sugbo Mercado Garden Bloc in IT Park and Street Food by Sugbo Mercado in Ayala Center Terraces, will only allow pick-up and delivery, and in the following week about 50 percent of dine in capacity will be opened.

According to Chiongbian, the group is adapting on-site, on-line approach, following the suggestion made by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Majority of food vendors in both sites are re-opening their stores/stalls under new normal condition, while a few decided not to open just yet.

All major safety protocols are being observed by the management, including controlled entry with marked entrances and designated exit pathways to avoid close people-to-people contact.

While things are still fluid, in terms of quarantine regulations, Chiongbian said operational set up will largely be dictates by authorities’ future announcements on quarantine rules.

Since the ECQ (Enhanced Community Quarantine) implemented in March this year, these two food markets remained closed. But the group intensified its existing online social media window the Let’s Eat Bai platform in social media, which led to the creation of LEB (Let’s Eat Bai) Holdings Inc.

LEB is the biggest online food community in Cebu. The platform was created last 2016 as a private Facebook Group that mainly focuses on healthy discussions about up and coming restaurants and current food trends.

The platform took a shift in March 2020, when founder JP Chiongbian shifted it to a private digital marketplace by putting in a few local vendors to sell their goods -- in a week’s time it grew, more merchants came which enabled it to be the main source of income for displaced workers, home-based entrepreneurs, restaurants, household suppliers and those alike. An Online Food Directory was soon created, which was very helpful to Cebu during the first few months of the pandemic, and to connect stay-at-home Cebuanos to categorized online sellers.

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