Ex-King Warrior Marcy Arellano takes career detour to become food park 'king'

Barry Viloria on Jan 16, 2017 10:01 PM
Marcy Arellano takes career detour to become food park king
The PCBL champ just opened four food stalls in a span of months—we visited one of his newly launched ones, and got a taste of his food and a peek at his new life as a businessman. (Photos by Vyn Radovan)

It’s almost seven on a misty Sunday evening, and just when we think the weekend is drawing to a close, the Carnival Food Park on Gil Fernando, Marikina City is aglow and burstin at the seams. It’s dinnertime and thus one busy night for the park, housing around 27 different food stalls. We get past the park’s archway revealing its name and logo, but not without bumping into customers posing under it—the five bulb-lit semicircles forming luminous rings really make an Instagram-worthy backdrop for anyone’s OOTD.

Farther in, we finally find who we’re looking for. Former UAAP and now PCBL player Marcy Arellano is seated around one of three tables facing Piggin’ Out, one of the food stalls he owns inside the Carnival Food Park. Seven months out of the PCBL court (he played his last game last May, helping the Jumbo Plastic Linoleum Giants win back-to-back titles), the baller is rather looking fit in his bright red shirt—the UE Red Warriors’ color, lest anyone forgets his collegiate league-playing days.

“Ang daming tao, umuulan pa nyan, ah,” Arellano, now 30, comments on the drizzle forming to drive the crowd into the nearest shed. “Malakas talaga dito pag weekend—from Friday to Sunday. Nung Sabado, mas madami pang tao, eh. Siksikan sila!”

There is apparent excitement in Arellano’s tone. He has been eagerly inviting us earlier at his first food stall inside another food park along Xavierville in Quezon City recently renamed Bistro Wäst. There, he serves European food among others. Things have happened so fast for him that at the time we finally oblige to his invitation, he has already opened another.

Meet the businessman
Piggin’ Out is Arellano’s second concept, one rather simple, come to think of it. The stall has two main pork staples as dishes: bagnet and bacon, over which he and his wife Karina are obsessed. Having opened in less than a month, Piggin’ Out has yet to broaden its menu with Arellano and his staff still gauging what piqued their market. Although, it’s already fast attracting crowds mainly because most of it are breakfast favorites.

“I’m Ilocano, common sakin ang bagnet and familiar ako sa kanya. So, mas madali kong ibenta sa iba,” he says.

But Arellano isn’t just the smooth-talking owner who gets to invite fellow influential players or friends from the press over to help promote. The Business Management graduate is actually the brain and brawn behind the business, and is doing quite well for the short amount of time he’s tried his hand in such risky industry.

Arellano opened Bistro Wäst mid-last year, and after Piggin’ Out last month, he went on to build Piggin' Out's second branch and a new concept called The Vibe at a food park on Mindanao Ave., Quezon City. He is one to believe in the saying, “Strike while the iron is hot”—for he finds trends as great business opportunities. In fact, “Sabi ko nga kung meron pang isang food park, tatayo pa kong isang food stall, eh.”

For all his four stalls, Arellano admits he’s quite a hands-on owner. Every day, he makes it a must to visit each, checking on the needs and wants of the business including his crew’s. He previously allotted a trial period for his employees, and that was where he thought them the operational aspect of the business. He put on the working hat as a waiter in the opening days of Piggin’ Out and the rest, too. He even had to learn some how to cook the dishes himself, and for someone who didn’t graduate from culinary school, he nurtured his kitchen skills. (“Lahat naman, nasa Internet, eh!”) Arellano tries to be useful from the time the food park is open until closes, and goes home around 2 a.m. (“Maaga pa ang 12 na sarado na kami.”) The morning after, he and his wife do the inventory at home. This is apart from taking on the social media aspect of it for the promotions and other external marketing partnerships.

“Enjoy sya actually. minsan stressful,” he says of the experience.

“Pero parang basketball din, ‘pag mahal mo ginagawa mo yung pagod nakakalimutan mo na. ‘Pag nakita mo yung result, masaya ka na. Yung pagod, wala na. Nakikita mong nakakatulong ka sa mga tauhan mo, at nakakapagbigay ka ng trabaho. Pero syempre kelangan ko ding kumita. Itong mga simpleng bagay na to nakakapagpasaya din sakin.”

Lessons learned
At Piggin’ Out and his other stalls, Arellano isn’t alone handling the load of responsibilities. He need not look far for a katuwang with his wife helping him both in the business and in the household. Although, “Minsan nagtatalo kami ng wife ko. Nale-lessen kasi time sa bata, pinagtatalunan din namin ‘yon pag naka-focus kami masaydo sa negosyo.” Hence, the two compromise, and shuffle their duties as parents of their four-year-old.

For Arellano himself, he’s up early morning to drive his son from their residence on Mindanao Ave. to the kid’s school in Quezon City. He waits for the child to finish classes until 11 a.m. and uses the time in between by working out at a nearby gym. And if he gets too tired from all the work done and is yet to be done, “tutulog nalang muna ako sa kotse. Kung hindi man, mamalengke ako.”

Still, it’s a life Arellano has always imagined. It isn’t exactly his first time handling a business. He’s owned a computer shop back in his hometown San Juan, Ilocos Sur, but has sine shifted its ownership to his dad. And way back when as a student, he had dreamt of putting up his own carwash.

“Di ko din naisip na mapupunta sa food kasi di naman ako chef or cook,” he says. “Medyo risky lang talaga ako pero ako yung tipo na di ko pinapabayaan. Kelangan tutok ka talaga pag business, eh. Kelangang ibuhos lahat lalo na sa umpisa. Later on pag nakabawi ka na, relaks ka nalang, eh. Of course, I couldn't have done it without our partners.

Arellano knows too well about what happens when he doesn’t fully take charge. For example, his first venture—a tapsihan in Fairview—didn’t succeed as how he though it would. Sadly, it closed after almost two years.

“Medyo lost ako dun at di ko pa gamay ang business masyado,” he confesses, saying he has since attended seminars and talks on business and investments to educate himself. “Naglalaro pa din ako ng PBL nun.”

Still a basketball player
Speaking of basketball, is Arellano over and done with playing hoops?

“Actually, di naman ako tumtitigil,” he explains, saying his contract with Jumbo Plastic has expired last year following the end of the Chairman’s Cup. The team has since taken a break from the last conference, and is only planning to get back in the next series this summer.

And so, Arellano is here trying to use his time off the sport in things that are worth the investment. A shot back at basketball is still there, although the former PBA and PBL player has declared that it he won’t be fulltime like before. True, the PBA is the dream for many players and his, says the one-time UAAP Juniors MVP and Seniors Rookie of the Year. But, he counters, looking for a safety net for a career is always helpful especially if you're raising a family of your own.

“Ready na ‘ko,“ he pauses, “Yung ibang players, ‘di ready na mag-change career. Ang goal kasi dito sa tin, ang PBA. Pero pag wala na? Ano na fallback mo? Madami nakong gustong i-try na iba pero dito ako (sa food business) napunta.”

“’Di ko na in-e-aim ang PBA pba ulit. Pero why not kung pwede? Di ko muna priority. ‘Pag amateur muna, I’m okay with that.”

Apart from food, Arellano also keeps a sideline as a subcontractor in construction—“pero di pa ganun kalaki, nagsisimula pa lang kami ng wife ko.”

Arellano admits that never has he been as laser beam-focused on things in his life apart from basketball until now. And he likes it—being his own boss, managing his own time, doing more what can be done than, say, when he’s working at the office.

“At least dito, nagagawa ko gusto ko,” he gives an assuring smile. “Go with the flow lang ako, naghahanap ng kung san tataya at dun magri-risk. Pero ako talaga, gusto ko magkaroon ng sariling restaurant o kahit food park.”

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