Al fresco street dining opens in Makati and BGC

Street dining is back in Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC), and it is breathing new life into restaurants in the business districts

The Makati Street Meet revived al fresco dining on Rada and Leviste Streets in Legaspi and Salcedo Village, respectively, closing both streets to traffic on Valentine’s Day and on Feb.28 – all within the bounds of the health and safety protocols of the city.

Across town, a short drive west of Ayala Avenue, Circuit Makati hosted the Riverside Sessions – dining by the riverside, musical performances by a violinist and a saxophonist, and on-the-spot sessions with a caricaturist.

In BGC, under the My Street High Street program, portions of 5th Avenue go car-free every Saturday and Sunday so BGCitizens can freely play and dine outdoors from beloved Bonifacio High Street restaurants. Fresh vegetables and produce from displaced farmers of the Benguet Collective are also made available on weekends. This initiative not only aims to support social enterprises that were severely hit by the pandemic, but also offer affordable goods to the BGC community.

The good news, according to Chrissy Roa, Head of Marketing and Communications, is that these events will henceforth be happening on a regular basis, in response to the clamor of both restaurant owners and customers. She said the Makati events are the initiative of Ayala Land, Make It Makati, and MACEA (Makati Central Estate Association Inc.).

The next runs of Makati Street Meet will happen on March 14, April 4, April 18, May 2, May 16, June 13, and June 27. Riverside Sessions at Circuit Makati will happen on March 14, April 18, May 16 and June 27.

Al fresco, or outdoor, dining has emerged as one of the biggest global trends in the pandemic-hit restaurant business with parking lots, streets, gardens and other open spaces being used to cater to patrons in safe and open-air environments. This development came as the economy started a slow but steady rebound with the easing of quarantine restrictions.

Ayala Land has been implementing road closures in Makati and Bonifacio Global City to promote safe outdoor community events. Its other estates like Nuvali, Vermosa and Vertis North also feature big open spaces and pockets of green for this purpose.

The Makati Street Meet was held every month for three years at its original venue along Paseo de Roxas until the pandemic closed it down one year ago. But with the gradual easing of health and safety restrictions this year, it is being revived with a new format and purpose – to help resuscitate the ailing restaurant industry.  

“It had a resounding effect on the Legaspi Village community. Even people from far away cities came to visit. It has a world-class appeal and our area needs events such as this,” says Carlo Lorenzana, owner of Nikkei and a number of other restaurants in the Makati Central Business District (MCBD).

What sets the Makati Street Meet apart from other outdoor activities is the “bayanihan spirit” among the merchants and organizers, said Chef JP Anglo, owner of Sarsa restaurant along Rada Street. “It brought a sense of community to the neighborhood,” he said.

The usually busy Rada and Leviste Streets in the MCBD were closed to traffic for the entire day to give way to the Makati Street Meet. The open air venues featured umbrella-covered patio tables and even mats and pillows for casual dining.

Circuit Makati is a budding mixed-use community by the Pasig River that is well-positioned to be the city’s center of arts, culture and entertainment. Its centerpiece, the world-class Samsung Performing Arts Theatre will soon be completed. Circuit Makati’s riverside setting is the inspiration behind the Riverside Sessions.

Aside from bringing the community together, these initiatives also provided a venue for start-up businesses to market their products and services.

More than 30 restaurants and food providers have so far participated in these efforts to promote outdoor activities within the community. 

Supporting this endeavor as their source of livelihood or to augment income resources, is one of the thrusts of Ayala Land, especially with the prevailing pandemic, Roa said.