BY the first quarter of 2018, Sugbu Mercado Food Bazaar Inc. (SMFBI) will be opening its regular food market bazaar to invite more aspiring food entrepreneurs in Cebu.
Unlike its existing concept where tenants at Sugbo Mercado operate every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, The Market will become an everyday dining destination.
The Market is a 3,000-square- meter food market to be situated in North Reclamation Area (NRA) in Mandaue City. It will be a food market that will be exclusive to 25 tenants.
“We want to reinforce our advocacy in bringing up the entrepreneurial spirit of Cebuanos,” said SMFBI president John Paul Chiongbian.
SMFBI’s creation of The Market is part of the company’s expansion plan, following the success of its flagship project Sugbo Mercado in the Garden Bloc of Cebu IT Park, which turned two this year.
Sugbo Mercado opened on Sep. 26, 2015, with the goal of being the first and biggest year-round weekly food market in Cebu and a venue for the best of Cebu as well as budding new players in the local food industry.
The longest food market in Cebu plays host as an alternative open-air events space catering to corporate or product launches and roadshows on top of regular in-house entertainment activities like food showdowns, bands, shows, and other promotions.
Within two years, the team was able to open a branch in Cebu Business Park but later closed this due to construction activities in the area, which no longer made it feasible to continue operating as an open-air dining destination.
SMFBI also opened a pop-up concept in South Road Properties in City di Mare but was later halted due to location challenges.
“It was actually the ingenuity and the rich culture of cuisine among Cebuanos that pushed us to provide a venue to bring all them all in, this time in an everyday dining concept,” said Michael Karlo Lim, SMFBI’s marketing and communications director.
He added that their intention to open in Mandaue City with a week-long operation and a themed setup is a reflection of the city’s burgeoning entertainment and lifestyle hub.
Lim added expansions to Mactan are also being explored. He, however, declined to disclose specific details of the expansion.
“As to the specifics, we will cross the bridge when we get there”, said Lim.
The popularity of food bazaars in Cebu is primarily driven by the rising spending habits of Cebuanos and the strong push for food tourism in the province.
One of the reasons many first-time entrepreneurs join bazaars is the relatively low rent. Lim said food markets are a perfect avenue for aspiring entrepreneurs to test their products on the market and gain market share.
On the other hand, consumers patronize food bazaars because they get to try out many dishes in one place at pocket-friendly rates.
Last year, Sugbo Mercado was officially endorsed by the Department of Tourism-Central Visayas as Cebu’s “First Weekend Food Market . . . promoting individual brand identity and presenting diverse culinary delights from the Philippines and other parts of the world while supporting micro food entrepreneurs by providing the perfect venue to enable these to reach and expand their market.”
Early this year, the team also mounted the Foodtrepreneur Challenge, a competition that aimed to discover a new breed of startup food entrepreneurs. Contestants were judged by the value created by the new product, attractiveness of the market opportunity, the competitive advantage, the operational viability, the capability of the vendor, the capital requirements and financial forecast, as well as clarity and persuasiveness at the oral defense.