Right smack in San Juan City’s residential neighborhood, Santolan Town Plaza boasts of carefully selected casual restaurants, cafés and service establishments, creating a one-stop-shop lifestyle center. There’s a grocery and deli, a drugstore, hardware and furniture store.
Sprawling open spaces and lush greenery, combined with the design elements of easy pedestrian circulation and ample parking designed for convenience, is one of the hallmarks of a Rockwell development.
Even in these precarious times, the community will soon feel confident to come out for some sunlight and fresh air, assured by Rockwell’s well-thought-out safety protocols.
All shops adhere to government directives. A limit is set for the number of shoppers allowed in a store at a time. All stores must follow disinfecting routines for merchandise, and prohibit sampling of products, among others.
Dining out has been made much safer, to allay any reservation. Filipinos’ favorite pastime will be en vogue again following Rockwell’s strict safety measures.
Clear, protective barriers are in place between customers at the same table and between tables. Diners who come from the same household, will be seated diagonally from each other, one meter apart. Diners from different households will be seated 1.8 meters from each other. And flatware will be laid out only when diners are seated at their table.
Diners must fill out and submit a health declaration form before entering. The form can be accessed via QR code or may be filled out at the restaurant’s waiting area following strict safety protocols. Digital menus are available through QR code, and cashless payment options are conveniently available to minimize contact between customers and restaurant staff.
Dine with ease
At Santolan Town Plaza, customers can dine with ease, with a little extra space.
Restaurateurs were quick on their feet to tackle the changes demanded by the situation, and Santolan Town Plaza has been behind their plans every step of the way.
“My love for food has always been the inspiration for my restaurant concepts,” Charles Paw, the man behind Champion Hotpot, Hanamaruken Ramen, Scout’s Honor and many concept restaurants in the city, told Inquirer Lifestyle. “My travel schedule revolves around where and when we’re going to eat, and whenever I find something good. I try to bring the same experience in my home country so that I get to share the same feeling.”
Paw lives by the saying that “adaptability is key to survival.”
He said his concept restaurants transitioned from dine-in service to delivery during the lockdown. A setback in transitioning is the additional cost of takeout packaging. Still, he weathered through by “spending less on other areas and investing more in providing safety to our customers.”
Paw said they had made several changes in their operations, menu, offerings, promotions, and “even our mindset has quickly adapted for our business to survive.”
For instance, he is busy working on different approaches so customers can still enjoy the hotpot experience in the comfort of their homes. “Something we won’t usually see if circumstances are normal,” he said.
“We are thankful that Santolan Town Plaza has been very supportive of our plans. They have helped us work on promotions, new product launches, and even reaching out to the community,” he said.
Paw’s brands have put in place Rockwell’s strict safety protocols such as providing contactless transactions and physical distancing among all staff and customers, ensuring a safer dining experience.
Ruby Bautista, marketing director of the popular wine bar Barcino, said the biggest challenge was the lockdown itself.
“We had to rethink our business and marketing strategies to get by, with the least financial strain: Speed, presence, availability, relevance and, above all, safety. These have been the major pillars that guided us through our strategies, internally and externally,” Bautista said.
Barcino, Latin for Barcelona, first opened in 2004 as a quaint deli bar offering selected wines, premium cheeses and delectable Spanish deli. Its first restaurant concept opened in Rockwell. Today it has more than 20 branches.
“As lockdown restrictions ease, safety of our staff and customers will remain a top priority under the new normal,” Bautista said. “Santolan Town Plaza has been a good partner in this endeavor as they also provide safety protocols and service assistance for our staff.”
“Fortunately for us, our Rockwell branches have been experiencing an increase in diners,” she said. Adhering to Rockwell’s health and safety guidelines, Barcino installed markers and acrylic barriers to aid in physical distancing and ensure their customers’ and staff’s safety.
New method of service
8 Treasures had to adapt quickly as well.
“Upon the announcement of the ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) implementation, we had to come up with a new method of service right away to keep catering to our customers while making sure that the necessary safety and sanitation protocols were in place,” Daniel Ordonez, president of 8 Treasures, told Inquirer Lifestyle.
He said they were “not letting COVID (new coronavirus disease) get the best of us.”
So the restaurant began offering more cost-friendly promotional platters. Today, they are preparing to launch a line of no-preservative, prepackaged dishes.
“As always, our loyal customers remain the winds to the sails of our ship as many of them recommend us to their friends and families,” Ordonez said. “We want our customers to feel as safe and as comfortable as possible. Santolan Town Plaza has stood by us throughout the entire time, and it has helped and continues to help us where it can.”
The pandemic has reminded Ordonez that a business needs to be adaptable to any challenge. Safe food handling is a top priority, with their staff in complete protective gear. 8 Treasures strictly follows all safety precautions Rockwell has set such as physical distancing and submission of health declaration forms by all staff and customers, so that everyone can dine in with peace of mind.
“We also really put into practice the mindset to never give up even when the going gets tough. But, above all, we learned the value of relationships. Our customers, our staff, and Rockwell were what helped us weather the storm that is the COVID pandemic,” he said.
Check out the Santolan Town Plaza on Facebook or Instagram, or visit TheRockwellist.com for updates.
Santolan Town Plaza is at 276 Santolan Road cor. P. Guevarra, San Juan City.