It was back on April 26, 2018 when Boracay was unceremoniously shut down to make way for the island's rehabilitation. Boracay is scheduled to reopen on October 26—and by the looks of it, it will be a different place from what we all knew of the tourist hotspot. Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat has said that the island will "no longer be a party place," and that the government will promote sustainable tourism.

One of Boracay's most prolific restaurant groups, the Sunnyside Group, is ready.

The group, which is behind Sunnyside Café, Supermagic Burgers, Tart Shop, Spicebird, Coco Mama, and Popo, along with the outlets at the Boracay Street Market food hall, kept their stores and staff going during the island's six-month closure by mounting a number of pop-ups in Metro Manila. They also opened a now-permanent second branch for Coco Mama in La Union. Connections with other city establishments were also made to provide temporary jobs for some of their employees.

Now, with the island's impending relaunch, Sunnyside is reopening with a vengeance: a slew of new dishes and a more committed role in playing their part for the environment. While Sunnyside restaurants have long employed steel and paper straws and stopped single-use plastics in their front-of-house service, the Potencianos are now committed to cutting down their use of plastics in the kitchen by 75%. "This means reducing portioning bags and cling wraps. We're going to try to tackle plastics used when produce are delivered, but that's going to be tougher," says Nowie.

The Potencianos are also joining the Plastic Battle and SEA Movement, attempting to avoid the use of plastic bottles by offering free water refills in all their establishments.

"We’ve always been trying to be a step ahead and be more environmentally aware even before it’s required. We feel that it’s just good business practice to do so especially since we’re on an island. We’d like to do our part," adds Nowie. "We’d like to continue doing our part because it can’t be business as usual when we reopen. We’d like to lead the way not only in terms of the quality of service and dishes that we provide, but also in terms of being good business owners."


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* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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