Far from having the usual busy and lively scenes teeming with students, food businesses around De La Salle Lipa (DLSL) now find themselves struggling with the loss of sales ever since face-to-face classes have been halted since March.
Over the 9-month sales drought, some stores have already closed shop, among them formerly popular places like Dampa, I-Food and Grill, and Baba’s Mediterranean Grill who have already announced their closures in their respective social media pages, while some like Gabz Cafe and Taco Del Rey have not yet resumed business since the lockdown. Some however, still manage to survive through connecting with their consumers online.
Alex Garcia, manager of the fried chicken joint, Hungry Tavern, shared how they had to find other ways to sustain their business since most of their customers were students from DLSL.
“Hindi natin akalain magkakaroon ng pandemic, kaya ito parang bumaba ang sales namin. […] Para hindi kami mawala dito, or malugi talaga, naka Food Panda kami para naman kahit papaano may kita,” Garcia said.
On the other hand, some food businesses, like Kertong’s, a popular sisig place, opted to cut down the wages of their employees to ensure the continuous operation of the business while keeping everyone on the payroll.
“Hangga’t maari ayoko magtanggal ng staff. Kasi unang-una lahat sa kanila ay may binubuhay na pamilya na katulad namin, may binubuhay din kami na pamilya. So ang naisip namin is nagbawas kami ng sahod,” said Liberty Linganay, the owner of Kertong’s.
Meanwhile, owner of a small banana cue stall, Lito Panggat had to deal with the repercussions of the community quarantine saying that his profit for the day is not enough to sustain his small business.
“Ang bumibili ngayon konti-konti lang. […] Hindi rin ako makapagdagdag ng ibang tinda kasi wala rin namang bibili,” Panggat shared.
Though there are still food businesses around DLSL campus that manage to operate their shops, there were also food businesses in the area that were forced to close as their current sales can not cover the expenses needed to run the business.
Phoebe Duran, the owner of the Dreamland Arts & Crafts Cafe, which aside from their pasta caters to the local indie scene with their handmade crafts, shared how the pandemic affected her business leading to a decision to close down the well-loved cafe in both Lipa and Tagaytay branches.
“Ang alam ko kasi talaga magtatagal siya. […] sabi ko kung ganito ico-close na kasi di na kaya isustain iyong mga bills. Syempre, kahit ikaw ang may-ari, kailangan mo pa ring mag pay ng rent. [I said] mag-close na lang tayo, kasi feeling ko matatagalan ‘to,” Duran said.
On the other hand, some students recalled their fondest memories in the area and expressed their hopes to go back to their favorite food places as soon as the pandemic ends.
Second-year BS Computer Science student, Unika Oba, cannot help but reminisce about dining around the area with her classmates.
“Maliban sa food, namimiss ko talaga kapag napunta sa mga lugar na ‘yan is ‘yung company with friends and classmates. […] Isa na rin ‘yung kapag may nakasalubong kang kakilala, iba lang talaga sa feeling,” Oba expressed.
Meanwhile, AB Communication student Jerico Lacorte who is also in his second year, hoped that he would soon go back to the food stalls he used to dine in before the pandemic.
“I still hope na magbubukas pa rin sila [dahil] bukod sa service na ibinibigay nila, iyong memories sa place nila are really irreplaceable […] and di na ako maka-intay na makakain ulit doon sa mga lugar na yon,” Lacorte shared.
As the government slowly eases community quarantine protocols, owners of food places continue to hope that soon everything will go back to normal.
“Ngayong nasa General Community Quarantine, baka naman [umayos na ulit ang sales], sana nga mawala na [ang pandemic] para back to normal na tayong lahat dito kasi mahirap kapag ganito,” Garcia, manager of Hungry Tavern, said.