Manila Bulletin Lifestyle talks to Audrey Mooney and Monica Magsanoc of the Manila Takeout initiative.
It is no secret that restaurants and bars have taken a big hit during this pandemic. We all longingly reminisce over the days we would grab merienda with friends, or meet up for after-work drinks, or have long family lunches every Sunday at our favorite local haunts. Beyond the social aspect of bringing people together, the industry employs thousands of our countrymen. Filled with empty chairs and empty tables, many restaurants have shifted to takeout business models but are struggling to make ends meet.
An art director based in New York City, 24-year-old Monica Magsanoc was able to fly back to Manila right when the pandemic hit. This was not before her close friend, investment analyst Audrey Mooney, told her how all their usual haunts were struggling or closing down. Distraught, the two young Filipinos were motivated to start an initiative that would support the local restaurant industry.
Through Manila Takeout, they make it as easy as possible for local restaurants to sell merchandise. Putting Filipino creativity and skill to use, they ensure that the merchandise is something people would want, with colorful and thoughtful designs. The proceeds made from each ₱800 t-shirt sold is donated to the restaurants and their respective service teams.
The first release included merchandise for Milky Way, El Chupacabre, El Union Coffee, and Wildflour. Their second release, now available for pre-order, is unofficially called the “date drop,” and features merchandise for Yardstick, 12/10, Made Nice, and Lagrima.
Manila Bulletin Lifestyle caught up with the “two girls in opposite time zones” who started the Manila Takeout initiative.
How did you guys start the Manila Takeout initiative?
Monica: Since Audrey and I have known each other, ‘getting together for dinner’ has been our favorite pastime. We’ve developed relationships with our favorite places and with the people who make them special—the waiters, cooks, and service time.
Monica: I was working from New York when Audrey told me about how our usual spots were beginning to close down. I saw the same thing happening in my neighborhood, except that the restaurants I would frequent began releasing merchandise as an alternative to serving food. I bought a few pieces to support the places I loved and Audrey told me she would do the same, especially if our local favorites started putting them out.
Do either of you have a background in the business that influenced your decision to start this initiative?
Audrey: I don’t really have a background in the restaurant industry. But we think that, now more than ever, it’s important to help each other out regardless of industry or discipline. On a more personal level though, I’ve always just loved finding restaurants and bars to eat in. My friends always come to me for restaurant date ideas or bars to take their girlfriends to. We just really wanted to help an industry that we love a lot.
Monica: While Audrey’s hobby is finding the best places to eat, mine is finding emerging talent within the local creative industry. I stepped back from my usual designer role to instead mobilize those that I admire, collating and curating their incredible work for the benefit of the food and beverage industry.
Monica: As for background experience, I’ve worked on a few non-profit design initiatives. In 2016, I create a line of t-shirts in order to ignite youth protest against the infamous Marcos burial at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. The initiative raised over ₱250,000 for the families of the victims of martial law, which we donated through the RockEd foundation.
How did you choose the restaurants and the designers?
Audrey: We initially chose our favorite restaurants—places you’d find us with friends in the evening and family on the weekend—and preferred artists who had unique experiences or personal relationships with those restaurants. We wanted to create an ecosystem of collaboration, one where restaurants are able to work with some of Manila’s most incredible artists, and where artists have the opportunity to create lasting designs for iconic Philippine restaurants.
Monica: Since our launch, however, both brands and artists have started to reach out to us. We’ve now taken a different approach to curate our lineups and have been grouping establishments that share a theme in experience. We have a special bar drop in a few weeks and can’t wait to release that!
Why do you think it is important to support local restaurants and designers right now?
Audrey: It’s not hard to see how much restaurants have been affected by the lockdown and quarantine.
Monica: As a non-profit initiative, all Takeout artists have generously donated their time and talent to support their partner restaurants. We, therefore, ensure that our artists have the creative freedom to design in their own personal style and vision during the collaboration.
Monica: While we’ve had a few big names on our releases so far, we also make it a priority to support emerging artists. Instagram is a great platform to connect and it’s been amazing reaching out to younger artists whose work I’ve followed for the longest time. We’ve worked with absolute powerhouses on our last two releases, and are very excited to share all the talent we still have on board.
The shirts, priced at ₱800 each, are available for pre-order at www.manilatakeout.com. All proceeds go to the restaurant and their respective service teams.