Digital Reporter

Maginhawa Street: multicolored tricycles ripping down the residential neighborhood. University students moving restlessly with the passage of time. Rows upon rows of eateries across the two‑kilometer main thoroughfare. For food entrepreneurs opting to tap the young, middle‑class market, this street in Quezon City is the place to be. But for small business owners who have set up shop in this formerly quiet community, with the higher foot traffic comes a hurdle: rent.

Rates for commercial establishments have skyrocketed over the years, with current fees going as high as P60,000 per month.

Despite this, 23‑year‑old Alexx Esponga and 21‑year‑old Kloyd Majam, who were students when they put up rooftop café Jess & Pat’s in other up‑and‑coming food hub Lilac, Marikina, decided to transfer operations to Maginhawa. In here, rent for their 110-square-meter space costs over P50,000 per month: a jump of 714.29% from their previous rental fee of P7,000 in Marikina.

“Based on our market research, most of our patrons are from Quezon City. So that’s one factor why we were not afraid to move here,” she said. But with Maginhawa’s stature as a popular food destination, “we realized that we have to be really competitive because we’re in the ‘real world’ already,” she said.

The two owners who are avid followers of the local indie scene also see their move to Maginhawa as an opportunity to help more Filipino artists. To compensate for the bigger rental, Majam said they plan to increase their sales and stage more local acts.

“In Marikina, we had to pay an additional P5,000 for every event we mounted,” Majam said. “Here, since the rental fee is already fixed, we can stage events as much as we want.”

While the two are bullish on the business, they admit that it will take a long time for them to reap the reward of taking the risk.

“I believe that if you do something for a good purpose or if you are helping others, people will continue to support you,” Esponga said. “The success will just follow.”

The first version of this story was first published on March 20, 2018.

Find Jess & Pat’s at 2/F 63 Maginhawa, Diliman, Quezon City