The continuous expansion of the country’s expressway system has paved the way for breakfast rides and the discovery of many beautiful places that riders look forward to during weekends.
Among the things we look for when we embark on these two-wheeled journeys is delicious local food you won’t find in Metro Manila—and don’t believe those signs that say ‘original.’ Nothing beats the taste of lomi from Batangas or longganisa from Pampanga.
More than the authentic local dishes, there’s another reason riders keep coming back to the same biker-friendly restaurants. Because the motorcycling community is close-knit, word quickly spreads among the clubs as to which joints serve good food and provide extraordinary service.
Restaurants owners are aware of the phenomenal sales growth of motorcycles in the country, and they don’t want to miss the gravy train. The formula is simple: More rider guests, more profit.
To spur ‘moto tourism’ in the countryside, we floated the idea of giving recognition to biker-friendly restaurants to Department of Tourism assistant secretary Ricky Alegre. Being a rider himself, Ricky liked the concept.
So what makes a restaurant biker-friendly? Here are the things we look for:
1) Helmet rack
Next to the smartphone or the wallet, another prized possession of a rider is his helmet. No rider would place his helmet on the floor or on a window ledge as he eats his meal. Placing the headgear on the next table, however, might offend other customers. Restaurants who welcome riders will go the extra mile of putting up helmet racks securely mounted on their walls.
2) Jacket hangers
Riders who go out of town never leave the house without their padded jackets. This protective piece of clothing has elbow pads, chest pads, and a back protector, and that makes it difficult to fold. Without jacket hangers, riders usually hang their jackets at the backrest of the chair next to them. But even if the chair is vacant, hanging your jacket on it can trigger animosity among the customers. We have seen restaurants with stand-alone jacket hangers near the entrance, and we like seeing our stuff hung in the right place.
3) Motorcycle parking
Parking is always an issue between car drivers and motorcycle riders. So to ensure a harmonious coexistence between the two, clever restaurant owners designate separate areas for both. Motorcycles are better when herded in just one corner instead of being mixed with four-wheelers.
Also, riders want to park their bikes within viewing distance to ensure no one sits on them for selfies without permission. Although it’s flattering for riders when passersby take photos of their stallions, when people mount their bikes without permission, it can be annoying.
Parking space with loose soil or uneven surfaces is also a no-no for riders as these may cause the motorbike to fall on its side when the side or center stand is lowered.
4) First-aid kit
Other than being more prone to road accidents, riders are also exposed to the elements, making them more susceptible to ailments than those driving in cars. While riding out in the open, they can easily catch a cold, develop skin allergies, or experience headaches and severe muscle pains.
It’s a big help if a first-aid kit that also contains basic medicine is readily available every time they enter an establishment. Trust us, a pained rider who receives first aid won’t forget the restaurant staff for this kind move.
5) Emergency numbers
Telephone numbers of emergency units should always be posted inside a biker-friendly joint. The list should include police stations, hospitals, and towing services, among others. When the riders spot a road accident, they can report it immediately to the authorities for immediate response. As the saying goes: The life you save may be your own.
6) Welcome drinks
There’s no better welcome than receiving a complimentary ice-cold juice drink or even plain water when a rider arrives. Riding is a physically demanding activity, and we easily become thirsty especially during long-distance travel.
7) Hot towel
This may be considered just a bonus, but it could mean extra pogi points for the owner and the restaurant staff. Riders feel a lot more refreshed when clean, damp towels are handed to them to wipe off dirt and oil from their faces.