• Everyone has to eat

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    There is a widely-held belief among entrepreneurs that the food business is the best venture to invest in for the simple reason that everybody has to eat.

    From the lowliest street food vendor peddling fish balls, chicken feet and God knows what else, to the toniest restaurants where thousand peso meals are the norm, the consumption of all types of edibles is a business that is as sound as sound can be.

    In between are the regular and fast food restaurants, as well as the food stalls and kiosks that are the lifeblood of mall denizens. Go to any SM, Robinson’s or Ayala mall—or any shopping center for that matter—and witness how Filipinos will invariably stop and eat and/or drink.

    When a new food business sets up shop, it will be tried and tested by the consuming public, curious to know if this newcomer represents the next big thing in casual dining. Very casual dining in the case of the smaller kiosks.

    Indeed, Metro Manila has become a diner’s paradise. Just about every street corner will have some eatery that offers standard comfort foods like adobo or pancit or siopao and siomai.

    But the adventurous streak of the Pinoy can be seen in his appetite for foods deemed strange by Westerners, led by the perpetual favorite of balut.

    Over the decades, some foods have sold better than others. Recall for example, that in the 1980s, lechon manok was sold everywhere, literally everywhere. In the decade before that, hot pan de sal became the business to invest in based on the premise that all Filipinos ate pan de sal every morning.

    What the hot pan de sal and lechon manok entrepreneurs didn’t consider was that an oversupply of their main product in any community was a recipe for eventual failure.

    Alas, some would-be businessmen never learn. A couple of years ago, pearl tea businesses sprouted all over the metropolis. Then there was that oddity known as the ‘scramble’ or ‘scrumble’ depending on how an entrepreneur wanted to dub the mixed ice concoction.

    Now, it is worth noting that siomai stalls are as ubiquitous as the lechon manok outlets of the past. We expect a few to survive and others to go the way of the forgotten fad foods of the past.

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