Briones: Time to upgrade

On The Go

THE sh*t has hit the fan for four lechon vendors inside the Carcar City Public Market after Mayor Mercedita Apura signed an executive order to shut down their establishments.

Mercy Roel’s, Honeylette Navaja’s, Arlene Manreal’s and Loreta Camanero’s Lechon Stores were found to have committed the following violations: operating without a mayor’s permit, operating without a sanitary permit, peddling and hawking of their sales’ attendants in the passageway of the market, selling leftover or reheated lechon to customers and using inaccurate weighing scale.

It’s amazing how they managed to get away with these infractions for so long. And they still would have been at it had it not been for the Facebook video showing a customer being harassed that went viral.

I know it’s a dog-eat-dog world for them, considering they all sell the same product. In fact, the same can be said of Larsian in Cebu City, where everybody sells barbecue. And I mean, everybody.

But the Larsian attendants don’t accost customers when they enter the place. Oh wait, they do. They just go about it nicely. Unlike in Carcar where I heard the attendants of one lechon store blocked some customers and forced them to buy their merchandise. Or something like that.

In Larsian, vendors also don’t sell “stale” barbecue. Oh wait, they do. Or at least, they did. I should know because I fell victim to it once.

A long, long time ago, before millennials walked the earth, my friends from work and I decided to have some barbecue after a night out drinking. Of course, we headed to Larsian because that was where everybody went for anything grilled in the wee, wee hours of the morning.

We were enjoying our food when I suddenly smelled something rancid. I thought we picked a table next to a dumpster, but there was none in our vicinity. I looked around and under the table and still couldn’t find the source of the smell until I held my stick of half-eaten barbecue near my nose. No doubt I had found it.

But you see, back then we didn’t have smartphones or Facebook. So we couldn’t take a picture or rant about it on social media. We just charged “it” to experience.

Of course, things have improved drastically at Larsians over the years. In the last decade or so, I’ve been frequenting a stall at the back near the restrooms. Although the owner and I don’t see each other as often as we used to after I decided to lose weight, we still chat and reminisce about the good old days whenever I drop by to eat.

You see, Larsian was also a victim of its own success. Vendors thought they could do no wrong, especially when it was the customers who flocked to them and not the other way around. Some took advantage of the situation. There were reports of shenanigans. Majority of customer tolerated the practices because they had no other choice. They did, if they craved fish stew or pochero, but for barbecue, Larsian was it.

But the times changed. People took to fast food joints that were open around the clock like flies to, you know.

So Larsian was forced to “upgrade,” so to speak.

I guess, the same can be said of lechon vendors in Carcar City. They need to rethink their selling strategy. The bad publicity has affected their sales, whether they admit it or not. Apparently, the Facebook video that went viral was not an isolated case. So if they don’t address the problem immediately, there may come a time when the customers simply stop coming.

Although since it’s lechon, and it’s cheaper compared to the ones sold in the metro, and we are in Cebu, that idea may be far-fetched.


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