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[photo: Fort Entertainment Complex, 2006. Photo credit: Richard Gem]

Where should we start? Market!Market! Mall was probably opened in 2004, and is one of the earliest retail cluster opened in the new Fort Bonifacio. However, let us be honest, nobody goes to Market! Market! Mall to get an escape from the rest of Metro Manila. 

Then there was the old Stopover retail cluster, located at the same place as the new Stopover Mall. All of old Stopover’s structures, except the Shell station building that also houses Pho Bac Vietnamese restaurant and the earliest Starbucks in BGC, were demolished in phases since a few years ago.

If we do not count the old Stopover and Market!Market! Mall, then the Fort Entertainment Complex would be the earliest retail development in Bonifacio Global City.  The Fort Entertainment Complex used to be known as the Fort Square. Later, it was divided into portions, such as the Fort Strip, the Fort, and Fort Pointe buildings. 

In an article published in The Wall Street Journal in June 1999, the early establishments at the Fort Square such as Fat Willy’s (a nightclub with a reputation for wet t-shirt parties) and Le Souffle (a high end French restaurant), Mondo (bar), La Savoia Ristorante were mentioned.  The lease of La Savoia was started in April 1998. 

After Fat Willy’s, another notorious establishment called the Embassy Superclub was opened nearby, which was labeled as a drug den by some media at that time and was closed by the authorities in August 2009. It was resurrected as Encore Club in 2010. None of these are here today.  We have not been able to find photos of any of these establishments on the internet, because the internet was not popular at that time yet, imagine a time like that!

[Encore Club, 2010. Photo credit: sarsie1901.]

A pioneering establishment at the Fort Entertainment Complex that is much missed is Pier One, which served grilled meat and other local dishes. Pier One was probably the earliest establishment opened there, if our recollection is correct, because it did not require the construction of a concrete building. It was housed in a temporary structure made from shipping containers. The last we heard about it was in July 2012.

Now for the ones that survive up till today. L’Opera Italian restaurant’s branch at the Fort was opened in 2004. In the same year, Caffe Puccini was opened at the Fort Strip building.  It is quite a feat that two fine dining Italian restaurants in close proximity to each other can continue to thrive together through the years, not to mention the existence of a casual Italian restaurant called Pasto in the 2nd floor of a building across Caffe Puccini’s. 

Zong was the only restaurant that served Chinese food in the Fort Strip. It was opened in December 2003 and closed early this year, and is replaced by Jonas, owned by the same business group. Zong was one of the earliest restaurants to open at Fort Pointe Building in the Fort Strip. It was known to serve decent Chinese dimsum in a contemporary setting.

[image of Zong, photo credit: Smarla Angtuaco,]

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