First Class

Dine out to dine in at Mercato’s new food market

/ 04:10 AM October 18, 2020

RJ Ledesma, a founder of Mercato Centrale, launches Mercato High StrEat —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Slowly, we are returning to life as we knew it.

Malls are reopening. People are going back to work. Restaurants are also opening their doors for diners again, albeit with the safety protocols of the new normal.


The latest to bounce back—and with a bang—is Mercato Centrale, the outdoor pop-up market of entrepreneur, author and sought-after emcee RJ Ledesma and his partners.

Their latest concept, Mercato High StrEat just opened on Oct. 17 in BGC. Ledesma is trying to promote safe outdoor dining.


“As you know, it has been a trying time for the F&B industry,” he explains. “Many restaurants, big and small, have had to close down or lay off a lot of their staff just to survive. Mercato was just as affected. We had to shut down our original BGC location and the livelihood of our small food vendors were greatly affected.”

But Mercato has been quick to adapt to the new normal.

“Given that Mercato’s business and advocacy is to be an incubator for food businesses to survive and thrive, we worked with BGC, the Restaurant Owners of the Philippines and the City of Taguig to pioneer High StrEat, a safe and outdoor dine-in and takeout food market,” RJ shares.

It is located at the Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater along 7th Avenue and open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

What’s different about this Mercato? Besides the home cooks and small startups, the concessionaires include big names: Galerie by Chele of Spanish chef Chele Gonzalez of Vask fame, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, Mexican fave El Chupacabra, vegetarian restaurant Corner Tree Cafe, Indian fave Kashmir, Thai fave Mango Tree Manila, among other restaurants.

Ledesma assures the public they were able to meet the requirements of Taguig’s Task Force Safe City.

There is a temperature check when you enter; servers and guests are required to wear masks (except of course when you eat); social distancing policies are implemented; and the flow of people goes only in one direction to make sure people don’t bump into each other.


In any case, outdoor dining is really considered safer to prevent the transfer of viruses. The logic behind it is that it allows more air circulation, therefore if someone, say, sneezes, the particles are not trapped in an enclosed space.

There is no need to reserve; you can just walk in. You might have to wait, but even the seats at the waiting area observe distancing protocols.

Ledesma stresses the idea is to bring back the feel of the old dining experience, whereby you can just go to a restaurant, choose your food and be around people.

For those who are still uncomfortable with a restaurant setup, you can also opt for a takeout.

Either way, this is a great start to bringing back the good ol’ days of restaurant dining.

For more info, visit the Facebook page of Mercato Centrale:

More from the author at Follow @margauxsalcedo on Instagram.

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TAGS: Mercato, RJ Ledesma
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