BFF Diner, the Food Park Where Great Tastes Meet Affordability
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Along Marikina’s busy J.P. Rizal Street in Lamuan lies a food park where the stalls sell affordable fares without sacrificing the quality of their dishes, particularly on the tastes.
Brad’s Family and Friends (BFF) Diner is a banchetto-type food park that's roomy and spacious and currently has nine stalls serving unique cuisines that will cater to the different taste buds, making it ideal for families, group of friends, and even individuals who simply love trying out various kinds of food in just one place.
There is Cusina Esperanza that specializes on “lutong bahay” dishes such as adobo and sinigang that will remind you of mom’s cooking; Felipe’s that serves so-called “putok batok” fares such as chicken fillet, chicken skin and crispy pata; Floring’s that serves grilled pork barbecue and pork steak; JJ Silog that serves mainly silog (sinagag and itlog) meals such as tapsilog and sisig.
For those looking for Japanese food, BFF Diner has Naruto Sushi that serves mainly sushi and ramen. For those who love pansit or pancit (who doesn’t, no matter how you spell it), BFF Diner prides itself with This Is It Pancit that serves all pansit/pancit dishes such as crispy noodles and pika-pika or finger foods to the uninitiated. Then there is Siomaity for all your dimsum cravings as it serves siomai, takoyaki and a lot more.
Since a meal won’t be complete without drinks and desserts, BFF Diner has two more stalls that offer nothing but these. Let’s Drink to That serves all natural drinks such as fruit juices, shakes, milk tea and of course, bottled water. Jeriah Dessert, meanwhile, satisfies your sweet cravings as it offers ice cream and do-it-yourself desserts, as well as cakes, pastries and fruit mix.
Picked from the Best
The food outlets were chosen from a line of applicants that wanted to occupy one of the food parks 11 stalls.They were all handpicked since BFF Diner wants nothing but the best.
The board members of BFF Diner made sure that the stalls won’t overlap with each other and will offer food that won’t compete with each other. To assure the quality of the food that the stall owners would serve, the board personally screened them, tasted their food, before they decided to let them occupy one of the stalls inside BFF Diner.
“Maraming gustong magbukas ng stall dito, kaya piling-pili talaga ang mga nandito,” said Michael Oyco, who manages the food park. “Dumaan lahat iyan sa screening ng aming board members. Nag-schedule sila ng food tasting to make sure na masarap talaga at angkop sa panlasa ng Pinoy ang mga nandito.”
Because of the tight screening, the food park still has two vacant stalls. Micheal is hoping that they would be filled soon and that they would offer something that the stalls in BFF Diner don’t offer yet such as Korean, Persian or American dishes to complement its existing cuisine.
Opened in November last year, business is already picking up. By word of mouth and social media, customers learned about the quality offerings that are affordable. BFF Diner offers student meals - noting that the area where they are located have a number of schools including Roosevelt College – priced at P49 to P69.
Aside from that, there is the “Early Bird” promotion where each stall offers discounts on their dishes for customers who come in to eat as early as 4 in the afternoon, when the food park opens, until 7 in the evening.
Even without these special promotions and discounts, prices are affordable. A complete meal with drinks would usually cost around P100 to P200, and the servings are generous and good for sharing, Michael said.
“Usually, ang first impression sa food park eh mahal. When we invited mga food bloggers, sabi nila they would spend P300 for a meal na para sa sarili lang nila. Ito lang a food park na nagbebenta ng rice and ulam for P100. If you avail pa of our student meal promos at early bird, you can eat at less than P100,” Michael said.
Aside from students, the residents in the villages in the area are the mainstays at BFF Diner. Parents who both work would usually bring their families there, or they drop to buy take out food. The food park also gets customers from mall goers, especially those applying for government documents and IDs, since it is near Graceland Plaza, where government agencies such as GSIS and SSS have satellite offices.
There are also the churchgoers since the food park is located near two churches, one of them, Marikina Foursquare Gospel Church, happens to be the church where the board members are part of, including Michael and his co-manager of BFF Diner, Micah Diza. Some food stall owners, such as Philip Ray Oyco of Felipe’s is also a member of the Foursquare Gospel Church.
For this reason, the food park opens early on Sundays, at 12 noon to accommodate the churchgoers who will have lunch at the food park after attending the Sunday service.
Because of its affiliation with the church, the food park also does not serve alcoholic beverages even if some of the dishes in the food park such as barbecues and crispy pata go well with beer, especially when served chilled.
Wholesome, Family Place
“Since members nga ng church ang mga board members ng BFF, isa sa sinusulong nila ay pampamilya dapat ang food park. Gusto nila ay wholesome. Wholesome ang vibe, pampamilya talaga,” said Michael, who graciously showed us around the food park and introduced us to each stall owners.
The food park is an experiment of sorts. The board wants to see if food parks are still in demand in Marikina after some of them have shuttered. It also does not open for breakfast and lunch as it opens at 4pm and closes late at midnight from Monday to Saturday, while other restaurants in Marikina closes early, some as early as 8 pm, especially during weekdays.
But based on the response so far from customers, and the rise in business, the experiment is paying off. The food park closes late to accommodate those who are coming from work late, especially those working in other parts of the metropolis and are caught in traffic jams, and those who are doing overtimes.
“Since we opened, dumadami ang customers namin. Iyong mga villages dito naging suki na namin. Pag tinatamad na magluto, dito na kumakain. May mga taga-Quezon City din na dinadayo kami. Nakita nila sa Internet,” Michael said proudly.
“The good thing is, once na try nila dito, bumabalik-balik sila. Gusto nila ang vibe dito, homey at wholesome. Ang iba gusto ma-try lahat ng food dito kaya balik ng balik May iba nga twice a week nandito,” said Michael, ending the interview and showing us around the food park that is roomy and the tables are placed at a distance that you won’t bump into other customers.
BFF Diner also hosts special occasions such as baptism and weddings since the place is big enough and can accommodate 80 to 100 persons.
643 J.P. Rizal St., Lamuan, Marikina City
0927 922 0731
Monday to Saturday – 4pm to 12 midnight
Sundays – 12 noon to 2pm and 4pm to 11pm
For more about BFF, please check out its Facebook page -- https://www.facebook.com/bffdiner/
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