The LaSallian community may encounter a few familiar faces and businesses operating in select kiosks at the freshly renovated Br. Bloemen Hall, touted as a student center and business innovation zone.
Presently, Br. Bloemen Hall houses De La Salle University’s student entrepreneurship area, the Animo Business Innovation Zone (Animo BIZ), which opened mid-July and is currently in its initial term. In addition, independent commercial concessionaires have begun their contracts and are simultaneously operating within the area.
Br. Bloemen Hall housed Zaide Canteen for 35 years, after which it closed its operations March 9 last academic year. Following the decision to pull out from the Manila campus, Br. Bloemen Hall was converted into a multi-purpose hall that houses commercial food kiosks, Animo BIZ pods, a mini art gallery, an open assembly area and Green Giant, the University’s student-run radio station.
Commercial concessionaires that were previously under a subleasing contract with Zaide will continue business operations in Br. Bloemen Hall independently of Zaide Food Corp. Its other stalls remain subleased at Zaide’s satellite branches in De La Salle Zobel Santiago School and De La Salle Greenhills.
A couple of the commercial kiosks in Br. Bloemen Hall are manned by employees that served under La Salle’s former canteens, Animo Food Haus and Zaide Food Corporation.
A kiosk selling french toast, turon and others is operated under the Animo Food Haus group and its employees, and continues business smoothly in Br. Bloemen Hall. The Sandwich Shop owner Vicrecio “JR” Cimafranca, operates his sandwich kiosk independently with a few other former Zaide employees as well.
The remnants of Zaide?
Zaide siblings and owners of Zaide Food Corp. assert that The Sandwich Shop, even though manned by former Zaide employees and selling similar sandwich products provided by the same business suppliers, have no affiliation with Zaide.
According to Zaide, Cimafranca submitted a resignation letter to his former employer last March 22, citing health reasons and personal matters. A couple of other employees, Alex Pacaanas and Lito Abines, continued employment under Zaide until the last weeks of June, after which they both resigned. Abines, along with working in the Sandwich Shop, reportedly set up a sari-sari store in Bicutan.
Now running their own businesses, Cimafranca, who worked under Zaide for 20 years, compares the business advantage of the new Br. Bloemen Hall setup. He cites better business hours, clientele and increased income from his P552/day pay under Zaide.
The Zaide siblings report that their employees turned up repeatedly absent at work until they resigned effective immediately, one without a formal letter. Article 285 of the Labor Code of the Philippines stipulates that employees must submit a one-month advance notice to their employer before resignation.
The Zaide siblings suspect that their former employees were establishing their own business without their knowledge, while receiving payroll. They also contest that DLSU Manila’s Zaide employees were guaranteed a spot in other Zaide branches in other La Salle schools, such as those in Greenhills, De La Salle Zobel and the STC campus.
Cimafranca clarifies that he encountered no complications or problems while under Zaide’s employment, and they were overall good employers. “Wala namang problema sa Zaide,” he holds. But he elaborates that during Zaide’s exit phase from DLSU, he, like other former employees, wished to secure a stable means of income and experience the independence of manning a separate business. This, he says, is especially after working as an employee for two decades.
Despite this, the Zaide siblings wish to address rumors regarding them allowing their employees peaceful retirements and permission to begin their own businesses.
On non-student kiosks
They made clear that they see no problem with eventually letting their former employees start their own business, but the manner of their employee’s resignation was unannounced, surprising and hurtful for them. They question what types of background checks these employees underwent prior to reentering DLSU, given the fact that these former employees are presently independent concessionaires in Br. Bloemen Hall.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services Josermari Calleja explains, “At the end of last school year, the Administration Council reviewed the list of those who expressed interest to lease a space at Bloemen Hall and we chose from there… We prioritized businesses that DLSU or its canteens had a prior working engagement with. After that, we prioritized alumni that fit the general concept we had for the place.”
With regards to the commercial concessionaires operating in the nearby student entrepreneurship area — a project that was allocated six pods from a total of seventeen pods in Br. Bloemen Hall — Calleja wishes to ensure service regularity for the University’s eating spaces. “We need to have a good balance between the number of student and commercial kiosks to minimize service disruption in Bloemen Hall.”
The commercial leases for the kiosks are year-long, and will end May 15, 2014.