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What is Carinderia?

– cheap and delicious local restaurant in the Philippines

(in the Philippines) a food stall with a small seating area, typically in a market or at a roadside.

“Carinderia” or small eatery is popular in the Philippines.

People on a tight budget usually go here to buy food. Employees working nearby, students and even
residents who do not want to cook food are the usual customers of this place. You can buy delicious yet
affordable meals here. Also, they offer a variety of dishes per day that will satisfy your empty stomach

They don’t sell only food but also sell daily necessities.Clays Kitchenette is one of the great find
“Carinderia” in Mandaluyong. They offer home cooked Kapampangan dishes served in “turo-turo” style.
(Kapampangans are well-known in the Philippines in terms of their cooking abilities) They serve
delectable meals without spending too much money. Usually, their price range per order is P25.00 to

Carinderia is a local eatery selling and serving affordable viands for the masses. It’s also known as a
“turo-turo” wherein customers literally point what they want to eat. If your house is located in a busy
area or surrounded by a lot of office buildings and schools, then putting up a carinderia business is a
wise choice. You can start your business right in your own home with a small capital investment

Things to Consider in Putting up a Carinderia Business:

Capital: You need about P15,000 to open a small carinderia or food kiosk. The money will go to two
weeks’ worth of inventory of food and ingredients, equipment and utensils, space rentals, and barangay
permit fees. You may need a lower amount if you will do business in your own backyard or front yard
(deduct P1,500 to P2,000 from the original estimate if this is the case) and if you will use your own
existing kitchen utensils (deduct their brand-new cost). Assuming an income of P600 daily six days a
week, you can expect to recover your investment by the second month.

Materials: You will need a space to accommodate your kitchen equipment and one to two small tables
for your customers; a stove with an LPG tank (or charcoal supply if you prefer to use a charcoal stove);
and cookware, plates, spoons and forks, and other utensils.

Workforce: You need not hire staff to get started in this business. However, when you feel it’s time to
expand or offer a wider variety of dishes, you will likely need one or two staff to serve customers, wash
dishes, and clean up the place.

Process: To do this business, you must have determination and a real interest in cooking. According to
Rene Jose Macatangay, a carinderia owner-operator for 11 years now, he would wake up as early as 2:00
or 3:00 a.m. to get the freshest produce when he does his marketing for food ingredients. Promptly at
4:00 a.m., he would be back at his food kiosk to do the cooking.
Location: Finding a good location for your food kiosk is extremely important. A place very near or easily
accessible to your target customers, say taxi or tricycle drivers, would be ideal. It’s also advisable to
check with your barangay council if a permit is needed for a small carinderia.

Menu: Decide how many meals you will serve for the day and prepare a menu plan for at least a week.
Some carinderia owners stick to a fixed menu plan particularly if they have already established best-
selling dishes. In the case of Macatangay, however, he only serves merienda (snacks) and lunch. He
opens at 10:00 a.m. and closes by 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. He regularly serves goto and lugaw (both rice
porridge snacks) and tokwa (soybean cake). Although he changes his lunch menu every day, he has
standard fare for particular days, like ginisang munggo (stewed mung beans) every Friday.

Price: Make your pricing reasonable and within the reach of your target market. Macatangay says he
keeps his prices low to maintain the loyalty of his regular customers.

Marketing: Word-of-mouth advertising is your best promotional tool for this type of business. Satisfied
customers will talk about your carinderia and recommend it to their friends who happen to be in the
vicinity. And for Macatangay, it is a source of great satisfaction to see his loyal customers come back
every day for his food fare.

With tasty, clean and affordable food with variety; and good marketing and location, you’re carinderia
business will surely be successful.


These places prove that prepared food does not have to be soul-less like they are in many commercial
restaurants. In smaller towns, they are a place for community to gather, like the Western coffee house.
There you get free soup and the ability to make your own sawsawan (I prefer vinegar with siling labuyo
broken up into it). If you sit in long enough you will also overhear stories about other locals from the
patrons and the owners.

Communities can use less firewood if they cook in larger amounts, in this rural Batangas place.

Carinderias became widespread in rural areas only after increased human mobility, around the late
1800's. Before this, I picture people simply setting up large pots by their windows or in front of their
houses, much like in more "isolated" areas today. People come walking over with bowls from their
homes and buy a bit to take home.

Felice Prudente Sta. Maria notes that carinderia is most likely derived from the word cari or kari, a Tamil
word for sauce, or a saucy accompaniment to rice. Some theories attribute this connection to the large
number of breakaway soldiers from the invading British army, mostly East Indian Bengalis or Tamils,
ended up settling in Taytay and Cainta, major tourist routes at the time. Note: I don't buy this theory of
word origin.
Even better ventilation at an outdoor carinderia.

Most memorable of their offerings was spicy cari (it has been posited that our peanut stew kare-kare had
evolved from this East Indian-Javanese dish). However, their enterprises, primarily catering to some
locals and many tourists from pilgrimages and train journeys, served things from food, tobacco, water,
and alcohol. Notable was the serving of betel nut, much like India's paan stalls.

Over time, the stalls evolved to serve solely food-- indigenized Chinese dishes, Filipinized Spanish food,
and these days some more Western-evolved creations (recently I saw a strange creation-- breaded and
deep-fried hotdog wrapped in a pizza). Still mostly saucy and all, to drench your rice with. They still serve
the cheapest and most abundant food. That they are moving away from serving regional plants and
animals, are an indication that local, unique food is no longer cheap and widely available.

Food businesses can take so many forms, such that operating one type is vastly different from running

For instance, running a food concession business is so unlike running a restaurant or a food cart. A food
concession may take one of several setups: vending, food consignment in an already existing canteen, or
running the canteen itself.

A canteen is said to have a captured market, whether it is located in a school, office building or factory.
This does not make running the business any easier. It just presents a particular set of challenges
depending on the market one chooses to serve.

1. Imaginative menu

Since a canteen has a captured market, it needs a menu that offers sufficient variety, says Marie Paz
Pineda, a food concessionaire for about 22 years.

“You serve the same people everyday and they should not get tired of your offerings,” says Pineda. It is
then important for a food concessionaire to regularly introduce new items to the menu.

2. Little promotion

Canteens need very little promotion and advertisement. Entrepreneurs who are in this business,
therefore, hardly spend for advertising.

3. Segments

There are three market segments usually served by food concessionaires: students, office employees,
and factory workers.

Among the three, students–specifically private-school students—are the most lucrative for Pineda, who
runs canteens in an exclusive school and dormitory in Manila.

“Students from such schools have more purchasing power,” she says. “Moreover, students lead active
lives, so they tend to eat more.”
On the other hand, Annie Valdez, who co-owns CTED Food Services, says that catering to office
employees is more profitable, because an office canteen could be operated continuously throughout the
year, unlike school canteens that are shut during school vacations.

4. Rent

This depends on the leasing policy of the property administrator. Valdez cites her parents who run a
factory canteen as an example: “They don’t pay any rent. Even the utilities, such as water and electricity,
are free of charge,”

“The administrator wants them to cater to the factory workers. The disadvantage, though, is that they
couldn’t increase their prices since these workers have limited budgets.”

Rental rates may also vary depending on the size of the facility being served and the location of the

5. Lease contract

The lease contract in schools is usually co-terminous with the term of the school headmaster or the
signatories of the contract. For office buildings, the contract usually lasts for a year; however, it may vary
depending on the policies of the building association or administration.

Valdez and Pineda generally find it easy to deal with school administrators. However, Valdez advises
would-be food concessionaires to practice pakikkisama, that is, to be very accommodating of the
administrator’s policies, whether the concession is located in a school, office building or factory. PR—
public relations—is very important in any business, they stress.

6. Operating hours

They must match the influx of customers, whether students, office, or factory workers. Valdez starts her
school canteen operations as early as 5 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Pineda operates her school canteen from
7 a.m. till 6 p.m.

* A food concession business has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when compared to other
types of food businesses:

• Complicated inventory system

There are a lot of items to track when operating a canteen. These include cooked dishes down to the last
cooking ingredient, cooking and eating utensils, and kitchen equipment. Valdez conducts a monthly
inventory of her canteen’s stocks and utensils.

• Close supervision

Running a canteen requires a lot of attention from the entrepreneur – it is not something the owner can
just leave to the care of the employees. Food concessionaires need to have production systems down pat
before delegating supervision to employees, specifically the operations manager.
• Capitalization

The initial capital needed to start a school canteen depends on the size of the facility to be served, the
equipment to be acquired , the number of customers served , and extent of the renovation required, if

For a canteen with a serving capacity of some 200 people, an initial investment of P1.5 million to P2.5
million is required. About 70% of that amount would go to acquiring equipment, and the rest could serve
as the initial working capital.