The lockdown forced restaurant owners to think out of the box. How could they continue doing business even in a smaller, more contained capacity? Many ramped up their takeout and food delivery services which allowed them to keep a small staff to prepare and package the cooked food.
Since the start of the lockdown, Sarsa chef and owner JP Anglo and his wife Camille have been preparing packed meals for front-liners and offering food to go. His two branches of Sarsa in Legazpi Village, Makati City and at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City had to close due to quarantine.
The three monthlong pause allowed him to figure out his next step. Earlier this month, he reopened the Makati branch, rebranding it as Sarsa Stockroom. This gave them access to a bigger kitchen, which made it easier to cook batches of food.
The space has also been converted into a plant store and mini vegetable talipapa with his potted plants and Camille’s supply of fresh vegetables. Dining plates from his defunct restaurant Kafé Batwan and assorted kitchen implements are also for sale.
“This pandemic will be a long-term thing,” Anglo told Lifestyle. “Nothing will go back to normal until there is a vaccine.”
Since restaurants can accept only a maximum 30 percent capacity, Anglo saw it fit to convert his Makati branch into something akin to a lifestyle store. There are baskets, bags and surfboards on display, objects that call to mind happier times from the couple’s trips to Bali and Siargao. Everywhere you look, there is something fresh and green, making the space quite inviting.
“People like ukay-ukay (thrift shopping). Also I think the lockdown has made some of them want to spend, whether it’s for plants or plates.”
This week, Anglo has opened Sarsa Stockroom for private dining. He can accept from four to eight diners for whom he and his small team will prepare a multicourse menu. A sample menu posted on his Instagram listed kansi empanada, calderetapanada with spicy tomato sauce, chicken binakol with cocochuri, mango pandan pork barbecue, beef pares with smoked tendon, sautéed French beans with batwan sambal, grilled vegetables from Camille’s talipapa and Sarsa halo-halo.
“The setup at Sarsa Stockroom will be semipermanent. When our SM Megamall branch reopens in the next few weeks, it won’t have the same setup. It will offer dine-in and takeout,” he said.