The minds of the youth never fail to surprise the older generation. Although millennials are often labeled as lazy or hardheaded, many young people actually love to dream up big ideas and work their hardest to make it happen. For friends Kevin Fernando, Mike Ricafort, and husband and wife tandem Joey and Ciara Ong, their dream was in the conceptualization of Seventeen O’Nine, Makati’s newest creative kitchen and micro events place. Tucked away in the thriving La Fuerza complex on Chino Roces Ave., Seventeen O’ Nine isn’t only a dream come true for these millennials, but also a place where patrons can come and bring their own vision to life.
“Seventeen O’Nine is a space that you can rent for whatever activity you can think of that requires a kitchen and a space for guests,” shared partner Ciara. “This space that can be transformed into many things, like a dinner venue, commissary kitchen, training area for meetings and planning sessions, or even an art exhibit. It gives patrons free reign to hold your own private event in a comfortable space with an air conditioner, a television, a full working kitchen, and other amenities. You can be as original and creative as you want—we’ve seen some pretty interesting concepts from our renters!” The events space has been transformed into a number of things since first opening, including a pop-up preschool for kids to learn math through baking and a bachelorette party with free-flowing gin and a foot spa.
“Primarily, we intended it to [be a solution] for homeowner’s [lack of space],” shared Mike. “Whenever they’d like to host a party, but have second thoughts due to the hassles of cleaning up, Seventeen O’Nine would be their default venue to serve as their own little private space.” The idea worked. However, Seventeen O’Nine really found its footing when chefs and aspiring restaurateurs heard about the space’s flexibility. They came knocking at their door, using the space as a venue to host charity dinners, experiment on new tasting menus, or simply practice the flow of how their future restaurants would run.
Recently, Lifestyle Asia attended a private dinner to taste the menu of new food concept Cheech & Chang, which was held at Seventeen O’Nine. The chefs and owners of that particular establishment used the place as a venue for a dry run, serving their signature roast duck stuffed boas to family, friends and media. Today, they are opened in Kapitolyo, and Seventeen O’Nine played a role in their journey. Being a part of the creative process of food entrepreneurs is something Joey, Ciara, Kevin and Mike love to do.
Seventeen O’Nine was conceptualized in Joey’s one-bedroom apartment. “I love cooking and hosting for friends. Living in a one-bedroom condo created this pain point or demand for a bigger space,” Joey shared. “During one of my trips to Shanghai, I saw this place where they had baking facilities for people living in small spaces but wanted to bake a cake or cookies to bring to parties or do it just as a hobby. Since then, I’ve always thought of creating the same concept back home, but with a full kitchen for people like me who live in boxes inside Makati. As the years passed, I started seeing the same concept being developed in Los Angeles and New York. So when [a space opened up] in La Fuerza, I decided to finally do it and invite some friends to partner with.”
Joey turned to his then-colleague Ciara (who is now his wife), who was working with him at a public relations company for help. They also tapped Kevin Fernando, a former coworker of Joey, who shared his passion for food. Rounding it up the team of partners was Mike, who had become friends with Joey during surf trips in La Union. They all loved food and had the drive to come up with something completely original. Joey explained the concept to his friends and they were all quick to agree that it was a good idea. Because of his love for cooking, Joey took on the role as the enterprise’s in-house chef. Ciara used her knowledge of PR to become the establishment’s marketing head, while Joey helped secure clients and brands looking to throw culinary-driven events. Kevin deals with day to day operations, or as he likes to call it “the party crasher of Seventeen O’Nine”. They dubbed the place as Seventeen O’Nine because that was the unit number of Joey’s one-bedroom apartment. It also served as a good, little inside joke between the four.
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“Our roles all intersect to support one another’s duties,” said Mike. “We haven’t really been too strict to exclusive roles. We end-up wearing each other’s hats whenever we see an opportunity for Seventeen O’Nine.” This interesting dynamic between the team has allowed the events place to be consistently booked. Their hard work and passion to work as one has been quite beneficial for the business. They admit that they never hesitate to ask each other for help when one is encountering difficulties in their role. Kevin continued the thought, “Our team is lean and mean, where you know that we have each other’s backs. As a start-up company, we create a fun event planning culture for our clients. It has really helped us understand our client’s needs. This has given us repeat clients that makes awesome events such as private themed dinners, small art exhibits, and the like.”
Since opening, Seventeen O’Nine has been the venue of some very interestingly conceptualized parties and events. When asked to name their favorites, the team behind the creative kitchen and micro events place had trouble choosing just one. “We’ve had many, but one I remember the most, as I was the one overseeing it, was when we turned the place into a pre-school. We had a day when the place was a baking class venue for toddlers, and on another day, it was a science lab for the same set of kids,” shared Mike with a nostalgic grin.
Joey and Ciara shared that they really loved hosting a pop-up dinner for the Rawsome Kitchen, a vegan food concept. “That was an eye-opening experience. The courses were creatively delicious and it surpassed my expectations for a fully raw, gluten-free vegan meal,” Ciara remarked. “Another notable event was our first dinner pop-up with Chef Alec Santos and Chef Justin Golangco called CREAM. This was special because it introduced us to the concept of dinner pop-ups for the venue, and it opened doors for other chefs to test run their own menus outside of the restaurants they work in.” Joey, who balances this business and working with an advertising firm, also uses the venue for shoots and digital ventures.
“Private degustation dinners by awesome chefs are probably one of my favorite kind of events,” said Kevin when it was his turn to chime in. “You will see the joy from those chefs because they were able to create an entirely creative dinner apart from their normal menu in their respective restaurants.” Being food lovers themselves, Kevin admits that he and Joey also use the kitchen to experiment on future food concepts they have in mind.
Now on their first year of business, the team explains that they have so much plans to expand the Seventeen O’Nine’s brand and reputation. “Moving forward, we’re looking at launching our own food delivery and products using the kitchen—ready meals for offices and homes. We’ll be having more pop-up dinners which we ourselves will be hosting, and a YouTube kitchen show is also in the pipeline. Exciting stuff coming soon,” Joey said with a smile. Whatever it is, the possibilities for the creative kitchen and micro events place in endless. Just as Joey, Ciara, Kevin and Mike intended it to be.
To rent Seventeen O’Nine, message Kevin Fernando at (63917) 5405611 to inquire the availability of the space. You can also inquire through our Facebook Page: Seventeen O’Nine and Instagram: @seventeen_o_nine.
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