Eastwood Levante : Q and A with Mr. RJ Ledesma
1. What makes the launch of Levante in Eastwood City significant for the Mercato Centrale Group?
Levante in Eastwood Citywalk 2 is our first collaboration with the Megaworld Lifestyle Malls group. We are very excited to work with the Megaworld group because they have always been supportive of original food concepts – from their selection of innovative and progressive restaurants to the gourmet weekend markets. We feel that the Mercato Centrale experience will complement the dining experience of an Eastwood mallgoer.
The strategic location of Levante allows us to serve Eastwood’s residents and neighboring villages as well as office and call centers employees who want to enjoy great food choices late at night.
3. How many vendors do you have for Levante? Please share the general demographics of your vendors.
We have thirty vendors for this ‘boutique’ night food market. The extensive selection of mouth-watering goodies include grilled foods, desserts, sandwiches, rice meals, drinks, dimsums, kebabs, tacos, ice creams, cakes, pastries and whole lot more.
4. What sets Levante apart from your other food markets? What can the public expect from Levante?
The Mercato Centrale team carefully selected the best and most popular vendors from our different Mercato-managed markets so that Eastwood mallgoers can enjoy a premium Mercato Centrale foodie experience!
The public can always expect great-tasting and affordable food, pastry and dessert choices, live acoustic entertanment and a laid back atmosphere that is great for bonding with family, friends, classmates and officemates!
1. What / who inspired you to set up this business? Why food?
The Mercato Centrale Group is the successful events group behind Metro Manila’s premier food and lifestyle night weekend markets.
My partner, Anton Diaz, co-founder of Mercato Centrale and the man behind the popular food and travel blog www.OurAwesomePlanet.com, and I were inspired by the vibrant night food markets of our Asian neighbors like Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan. They are not only destination markets but tourist attractions as well. Thus, we wanted to bring that exciting ‘street food’ vibe and culture to the Philippines, and give it a uniquely Pinoy spin
However, putting up a night food market is only half of the successful formula behind Mercato Centrale. The other part is curating the market with unique and great-tasting food finds. To find the best gourment and artisinal food vendors for the market, we found our inspiration in Anton’s Ultimate Taste Test, a culinary event where he brings together different food vendors from around the country and gives his followers a chance to be a food critic for a day. Almost all of the vendors who were voted among the favorite food choices in the Utimate Taste Test joined Mercato’s markets!
2. What’s new with the Mercato Centrale Group? How has the business grown since it started three years ago?
Mercato has become the premier food and lifestyle night weekend market where you can find a variety of great-tasting food, pastry and dessert choices. Because of the great choices, Mercato has created a relaxed and jovial atmosophere for families, friends, classmates, officemates, balikbayans and tourists to hang out, bond, listen to live music, and create new experiences while enjoying great food choices in unique salo-salo style.
Mercato has also become the go-to place for food enthusiasts looking for the ‘next big thing’ in food!
Mercato has worked with different partners to create food-centric events to continuously find the ‘next big thing’ when it comes to food, such as “The Next Big Food Entrepreneur”, “Foodgasm”, “Asia Off-The-Streets Food Festival”, “BBQ Cook off” and may many more.
3. How do you choose your vendors?
All applicants undergo a taste test by the Mercato Centrale group. Vendors are chosen based generally on these three criteria: unique, innovative and, most importantly, yummy!
That’s how easy and, at the same time, challenging it is to become a vendor at any of the Mercato Centrale markets.
Mercato prides itself on being a ‘food entrepreneurship’ incubator that has helped its vendors create their own niche in the local food industry. Among the vendors who have emerged are Manang’s Chicken, Mochiko, Chuck’s Grubberie, Mio Gelati, Spring by Ha Yuan, Merry Moo, Inutak, Zen Taclings, Eat My Garlic Fries and many more.
5. Where do you see the Mercato Centrale Group five years from now?
We would love to bring the Mercato Centrale experience to different parts of the Philippines and become an integral part in promoting food tourism for the country.
We would also like to discover and assist more food vendors with unique, innovative and yummy food offerings so that all the major players in the local food industry five years from now will be Mercato Centrale alumni!