ALTHOUGH it covers a smaller area, more than 20 unique vendors have become crowd-pullers for Sugbo Mercado Dos at Cebu Business Park (CBP).

CBP is Sugbo Mercado’s second site, an expansion driven by the clamor of Cebuanos to bring the outdoor food market to other locations. It is located in front of MSY Towers and is open from Friday to Sunday at 4 p.m to 12 a.m.

It is a year-round weekend and open air food and lifestyle market in Cebu operated by Sugbo Mercado Food Bazaar Inc. led by nightlife capitalist John Paul Chiongbian.

As of last week, Michael Karlo Lim of Sugbo Mercado Food Bazaar Inc. said Sugbo Mercado Dos has attracted an average of 40 tenants every weekend, from the initial 30 budding food-entrepreneurs who joined them since the food bazaar’s June 24 opening.

“This is a smaller scale (for now) here in CBP. We have a lot of regulars from the Cebu IT Park site who joined us here. However, we have 25 unique food outlets here,” said Lim.

After CBP, Lim said the group is scheduled to open another Sugbo Mercado in South Road Properties by November this year, and in Mandaue City and Mactan Island in the first and second quarters of 2017, respectively.

While the Cebu IT Park site draws a lot of customers from the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, the crowd in CBP attracts more families, students and health and fitness buffs.

“Sugbo Mercado was easily patronized by Cebuanos because it radiated an atmosphere of openness--welcoming all people from all walks of life. Everybody is welcome here. You can dine, socialize and just relax here,” said Lim, adding that another factor is the variety of food showcased in a single venue.

Moreover, the food market has also become the launching pad of startup food entrepreneurs who wish to test the market first before they eventually become full-fledged entrepreneurs.

“Sugbo Mercado has become a cheaper alternative for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their products, gain exposure and access the right market,” he said. “Joining the four weekends would at least give these startups an idea if their product would do well in the market.”

Some vendors who started selling in Sugbo Mercado IT Park are now set to open their own stores. Keso Grill, for one, is slated to open in Greenery in Mabolo in December while Lord of the Ribs will open across Bright Academy in few months time.

Following the success of Papa Churros in Sugbo Mercado, owner Anton Aldeguer has opened his first kiosk in Ayala Center Cebu early this year.

“It is more than just selling. We also help these entrepreneurs in terms of branding, marketing and other things that would help them and their business grow,” said Lim.

Sugbo Mercado is also getting inquiries from entrepreneurs from other regions, prompting Lim to pitch the idea of accepting regional tenants for their future branches.

“My personal idea is to showcase the regional food. This is exciting because Cebuanos will get to try food or heirloom recipes unique to regions, where we don’t regularly have access to,” he said, adding that the concept boosts the campaign to patronize local products and eventually attract people to travel to these regions.

Sugbo Mercado Food Bazaar Inc. has already received inquiries from Bacolod, Iligan and as far as Maguindanao.

“We’ve had food tasting already and now they’re figuring out the logistic side of this, should they push through with joining us,” he said.

Tenants pay the organizers P26,000 per month for the booth rental, table and chairs and electricity to be used every weekends. The organizers take care of the security and cleanliness of the area plus the live entertainment during the night and other activities. The contract is renewable per month.