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A NEW ROUND of lockdowns rolls out today. The government has placed the capital under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) Alert Level 4, which means that some activities will be allowed again, including dining in at restaurants (albeit at 30% capacity outdoors, and 10% capacity indoors, but only for fully vaccinated individuals). This easing on dining restrictions comes just in time as a new initiative to help smaller food establishments kick off this weekend.
Unknwn, an experiential events company under CC:Concepts brought the country’s first film concert experience with Harry Potter in Concert and Call Me By Your Name in Concert; as well as several pop-up events across the islands. Its co-founder, Samantha Nicole, is programming director for bar Futur:st, the surviving Poblacion sibling of closed-down Cubao bohemian bar Today x Future (story here: https://www.bworldonline.com/the-future-is-now-past/).
This weekend, Unknwn is launching the HAIN initiative to boost support for small, local, and independent food establishments that have been gravely affected by the ongoing pandemic. For HAIN’s first edition, happening on Sept. 17 to 19, 13 restaurants in Metro Manila have put together special takeaway menus and set meals exclusively for HAIN. The participating restaurants include Angel’s Kitchen, The Bowery NYC Comfort Food, Lampara, OTO, Borough, Nic’s Park Terraces, Hai Shin Lou, Futur:st, Square One Hospitality, Cheech & Chang Hong Kong Roasts, TETSUO, Mijo Comfort Food, and The Bistro by Element Boutique Hotel.
In an e-mail to BusinessWorld, Ms. Nicole said, “It only made sense for Unknwn to extend its reach — and reactivate during a pandemic after one and a half years of nightlife and events being halted — as a vehicle to aid small spaces, where Unknwn’s origins and first few parties started, in a different but still community-driven way. It only made sense for us to utilize our market and our reach to help these surviving restaurants, and tap our audience who have always given high regard to personal and communal experiences.”
These set meals are available on HAIN’s official website, www.hain-mnl.shop, for P1,500. Customers can already order these special set meals until the last day of the HAIN weekend on Sept. 19. The complete menu can be found on the website, with treats like Future Rocket Salad and US Rib Eye Gyukatsu from OTO, vegetarian feats from Nic’s, and roasted pork belly from Mijo.
Fifteen percent of sales from the HAIN weekend will go to Rise Against Hunger PH in support of their projects to end hunger by empowering communities, nourishing lives, and responding to emergencies.
“We are working hard to make sure that this is only the beginning of HAIN’s efforts in further empowering small, independent, non-franchised restaurants, restauranteurs, and cooks,” said Ms. Nicole. “We invited this first batch of restaurants because of this currently dire situation. As a restaurant and space owner myself, I understand exactly what these places are going through, some of them we personally know, and we have heard all their stories of hardship and resilience. Hopefully, we can continuously make things happen for HAIN in different ways and be able to touch on more establishments and cooks.”
Initiatives like this will help make more people aware of the existence of these small restaurants. “We saw HAIN as an opportunity to let people know that all these establishments are working their hardest to offer diverse courses. It is important for people to know that they have access to delicious, comforting, and carefully made meals that are worth the price and hype. Having HAIN as the platform means further widening and increasing their market and, hopefully, cushion them a bit financially through the orders in the next three days.”
For the HAIN weekend, HAIN has partnered with indoor farm Future Fresh to provide the participating restaurants with hydroponically grown and pesticide-free greens. HAIN is also working with upcoming events IFEX Philippines and Sustainability Solutions Expo (SSX) to provide sustainable food packaging throughout the weekend.
“Restaurants’ needs and demands vary but we all share the same plights: Lack of sales, inability to serve our customers the way we used to, ever-changing regulations, losing our staff whom we consider as family, the list goes on,” said Ms. Nicole.
“The solution is to help one another; widen our minds and receive the subsidy we all deserve. If we are all capable to be more empathic to each other, and understand that there is strength in togetherness, we can hopefully, somehow, make it through. Community is key. Getting out of your comfort zone is also key. We’ll be happy to know that more collective initiatives like HAIN could be on the horizon. It’s all about working together for all of us to thrive, and not just survive.”
The set meals can be ordered through hain-mnl.shop. Each HAIN kit will also come with a complimentary Singleton of Dufftown 12YO Pocket Single Malt Scotch together with custom cocktail recipes concocted by each partner restaurant. — Joseph L. Garcia