Pandemic Ventures: Andrej Wisniewski on rebuilding after challenges and their new comfort food BGC hot spot, Jones All Day - LA Wine & Dine

“I’m glad that we can really get back to work and give our people livelihood.”

The pandemic has changed our way of life and along with it is the way we dine out. As restaurants succumbed to the pandemic, there were a plucky few who started new ventures. (After all, this can’t go on forever, right?)

READ ALSO: Healthy Eating: This Tagaytay Al Fresco Restaurant Inside A Wellness Retreat Serves Farm-To-Table Goodness

Jones All Day is Raintree Hospitality’s latest pandemic venture, following the success of Farmer’s Table in Tagaytay. Only a few months old, Jones is already starting to get a pretty great hold of the BGC crowd, offering something for everyone.

Andrej Wisniewski / Photo by MIGUEL ABESAMIS

It’s bright, airy, and fresh. The bistro looks straight out of a Marvelous Mrs. Maisel episode with soft hues of sage and peach paired with a midcentury modern flair.

It’s the prettier, pandemic-friendly version of Mr. Jones Diner in Greenbelt some years ago. Speaking of the old Mr. Jones, fans of their tapa can rejoice as this writer can confirm that Jones All Day is serving up its reincarnation, in the same style of plates to boot.

Overcoming challenges

I spoke to Raintree Group’s Andrej Wisniewski, who shared what it’s like opening two hit restaurants during a pandemic. (Spoiler alert: it’s not easy but it’s doable.)

From left: Mr. Jones’ Famous Tapa; Butterfly Pea Iced Tea

“We did Farmer’s Table and Jones All Day on a shoestring budget,” he says. “Normally, opening a restaurant from scratch will cost us between the P20 to 30 million range. We did it in P4 million.”

Recycling old furniture, Wisniewski shares, felt great and became a big switch for the company. Farmer’s Table, for example, used a lot of recycled wood and outdoor furniture and was their response to people’s need to get out of the city. Jones All Day, on the other hand, is proudly home to re-upholstered seats and refurbished tables and lights, and is a wonderful way to enjoy food in the open air.

Jones All Day is a concept developed by Raintree’s Chef Kalel Chan and is positioned to be a go-to, neighborhood joint in BGC. From brunch with amigas, lunch with the family, merienda after shopping, apero with colleagues, and even dinner and drinks with your partner. Jones changes throughout the day. Bright and airy in the mornings, dim and sexy at night.

French Omelette

“We turn the lights down a little bit for a different market altogether—people who want to go on dates,” Wisniewski says.

Aside from the tapa, their selection of oysters is worth checking out. They prepare them in different ways. You can have them plain—just over ice—or Rockefeller. You can also have them prepared ala escargot. A favorite among the group of food enthusiasts at our table on the day of our visit.

During a separate visit with lady friends for brunch, the coctel de mariscos paired with Sorrento spritzes became a highly recommended combo.

French onion soup

The menu tends to prove that Chef Kalel wasn’t kidding when he said there’s something for everyone. Pastas, pizzas, a seafood laksa bowl, and even a Filipino breakfast plate can be found on the menu. Their Hainanese Chicken Rice has also been praised by a couple of foodie friends, a dish I have taken a mental note of to try next time I visit.

Looking to the future

Even on the hottest of days, Jones’ outdoor dining area remains to be a great option with big ceiling fans and umbrellas to keep everyone cool. It’s always pleasant, especially on weekday mornings. If I lived in BGC, its outdoor tables would be the perfect perch to people watch while sipping coffee and eating a croissant.

Andrej admits that they’re usually full on weekends as Jones attracts quite a sizable weekend crowd. Even Farmer’s Table in Tagaytay is almost always fully booked on Saturdays as people are starting to enjoy going out again. Something that might have been pretty hard to imagine at the beginning of the pandemic.

From left: Chef Kalel Chan holding Jones All Day Cheeseburger Supreme; Black calamari

“We [Raintree Group] went from 28 outlets and 800 employees to three outlets and 60 employees in a matter of three days,” he says.

With restrictions easing up, Wisniewski says the industry is seeing a lot of revenge spending but it doesn’t mean restaurants should be complacent. “I see it calming down after Christmas,” he adds.

The restaurateur also feels extremely glad to be able to put up two establishments during the pandemic as the restaurant scene was starting to experience more challenges.

Smoked pepper turkey reuben

“Actually, prior to the pandemic, we were already oversaturated in Manila for restaurants, and the rents were so high that it was becoming a really untenable business model,” he says. “So I’m just glad. I’m also glad that we can really get back to work and give our people livelihood.”

Jones All Day is not just a bistro. The new concept includes The Jonesery where people can purchase freshly baked goods and other pantry essentials. They open at 7am for the breakfast crowd and close at 10pm for those looking for a nightcap.

Business lunch options are also currently in the works as offices in BGC start to fill up once more. Here’s to hoping Covid cases stay low, restrictions stay chill, and that the dining scene gets to stay breathing.

Sizzling Schezuan NZ Lamb Ribs

Jones All Day is located at Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio High Street, Bonifacio Global City. For reservations, call 0917-836-2173.

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