Filipinos are foodies in general. Their perpetual love affair with food is evident from the rows of dishes served at town fiestas to the constant proliferation of restaurants, food chains and kiosks across the country. Everywhere and anywhere you go in the Philippines, there will always be a spot to satisfy one’s cravings.
And because we are a people fond of flavors, food is always a go-to business from small to medium to big time entrepreneurs, who wisely keep an eye out—and their palates—for the latest trends in dining.
In 2017, the ever-outspoken millennials have made it clear they would rather fill their bellies with food that is “unique, exciting and extraordinary,” rather than tried and tested flavors from the big-name chains and established restaurants of commercial destinations.
As such, a concept that started out in 2016—the food park—has conquered the food and beverage scene this year. Throughout 2017, food parks and food trucks alike have sprouted in every corner of the metro, especially, and continue to do so.
In a report by The Manila Times Business in February, property analyst Jet Yu said the demand for sites for building food parks saw a significant rise in the country, mainly driven by the millennial market.
“With its surge in popularity, more and more vacant lots [are]obtained or leased out for the purpose of food parks. We may project this trend [as]similar to the trend of food markets like Mercato, which had a boom in 2011 in terms of new food markets established and set up,” Yu said.
Indeed, more and more establishments took off from Mercato’s concept with themes more creative than ever throughout 2017.
“Millennials today, they’re very outgoing. And then aside from that, a lot of them are actually working so they look for an outlet for stress. Usually, the first outlet they go to is food; second is a place where they can socialize with friends since they enjoy eating with others and not alone. That’s why food parks and food trucks are trending,” Gretchen King, group product manager of food and beverage at NutriAsia meanwhile told The Manila Times Lifestyle during the successful launch of the Locally Fruit Truck at Bonifacio Global City.
With that, there is solid proof that food parks will continue to be a craze in the coming year as explained below.
Millennials continue to demand choices and variety to be able to personalize their food experience. They are eating out more and more than in their homes. And while the young generation is cautious about their spending, they want something new, hassle-free and unique.
In food parks, there are many kinds of cuisines and unique eating concepts to choose from under one roof. There are usually budget-friendly gastronomic finds that were previously only available in high-end restaurants like Wagyu steak cubes for example.
From seafood, street food, ribs and steaks, a full meal, finger foods, and cuisines from different parts of the world, fancy types of desserts and overflowing of alcohol to bizarre new dishes, the food parks have them and will keep offering them through the New Year.
Food parks also allow chefs both professional and amateur to test out their culinary ideas no matter how unimaginable they may be. Running a less expensive stall allows low-pressure and low-risk investments before they take that huge leap in opening a restaurant. A good example of this stepping-stone-for-the-chef component of food parks is The Lost Bread at StrEAT Maginhawa, which branched out in a major mall this year.
Social media has changed the game even in dining. Food parks are all the more popular because of all the buzz they make on social media, which attract attention and consequent crowds to the sites.
Because food park dishes are very “Instagrammable,” the millennials’ obsession with food is ever present online. Using the tags #foodporn and #onthetable, pictures of food with exquisite plating appear almost every single day on all the major social media sites.
Add to these picture-perfect plates are the ambiance and aesthetics used in food parks, which are just as worthy of a post. Some creative food parks that stand out just for their concept alone are Kantorini in Quezon City, which is inspired by the whitewashed houses of Santorini in Greece; Carnival Food Park in Marikina, which is reminiscent of a perya; Food Haven food park in Pasig, which mainly highlights art via paintings and photographs; and Space Food Park in Manila that has an astral galaxy theme for interiors.
With their inviting outdoor settings, food parks also bank on music to get hungry crowds into their domain. Come night fall, food parks turn into party places with DJs, live bands and artists providing topnotch entertainment for which Filipinos are also known.
As such the food park gives the millennial what it wants—a place to eat, hang out in a casual vibe. New musicians, meanwhile, get to try out their sounds on a wider audience just as the chefs with their food concoctions. And of course, there will always be that food park that has KTV booths. We are in the Philippines after all.