People, Plates, Posts

Food Stop: Meeting the Women Behind Books and Beans Cafe and Restaurant

Some things are really sweeter the second time around.

The first time I visited and featured Books & Beans on my blog, I left with questions in my mind. First, I wondered if that colorful cabinet on their counter desk has books in its drawers. Secondly, I was also curious to know how they started and how long they have been hiding. Their signage on the wall of the building they’re in was put up only recently.

Well, yesterday, all my questions were answered. The owners were so gracious to have invited me so they can share their stories with me in person. I was told that I was the first to ever write about them and that they have received several inquiries after my post. I gladly gave in.

I arrived a little bit early. I wanted to get my caffeine fix first as I was headed to work right after.

This Chinua Achebe book was an instant throwback moment. It was an assigned reading back in college.
This Chinua Achebe book was an instant throwback moment. It was an assigned reading back in college.

After a few minutes, the owners arrived. I was warmly welcomed by a handshake and a Thank You, and with this very homey meal to warm up the conversation. As mentioned on a previous entry, Books and Beans not only offers coffee,  they also serve a wide range of meals and offer delivery services for your catering and/or packed meal needs.

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The cafe had its soft opening October of last year. It is run by 6-7 staff members headed by the man behind the kitchen, Clark, who, according to the owners, is always trying to come up with something new to serve. In fact, he proudly served this desert  after our meal.

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Clark, Books  Beans Lead Chef
Clark, Books & Beans Lead Chef

Soon, a new chef will be added to the crew to support the need of their growing number of customers. The place used to only cater to the employees of National Bookstore as another option aside from the building’s already existing cafeteria. It was to serve an ‘upgraded’ meal in case of client meets and/or lunch meetings. Now, with write ups like this, and the new signage, they are starting to attract customers from outside the NBS circle.

Ownership of Books & Beans is shared by these hardworking ladies, Lou Ramos (L) and Remy Ibasco (R). They met at the financial company they’re currently working for and were brought together by each of their own stories. Lou was a private school teacher before she met Remy. While Remy, then recovering from the passing of her husband due to cancer, was looking for a new venture in the financial industry when she met Lou. This is why Remy firmly believes that one should never use adversity as an excuse not to do well in life. Her life is a testament to this. In fact, she just came from school taking up a course to improve her skills. She proudly talks about her passion for learning even at the age of 60+.

Thanks to the blogger/writer who took the photo for us.
Thanks to the blogger/writer who was there and helped me with this photo.

These two friends, who fondly call each other “friend”, work well together that they can finish each other’s sentences and one can answer for the other. The decision to put up this cafe came about after helping a couple (who are also their friends) to revive a business going downward. The plan did not materialize but something new and better rose out of it – THIS!

When asked about expansion and franchise, they were quick in saying that they have received related inquiries. But they were both very clear that they want to learn from this venture first and ensure they are ready before opening to other possibilities. This tells you that you are about to see better things to come for this bistro – as what they prefer it to be described.

Well, it didn’t really take long for me to see the better things start. When I first visited, these decors weren’t around yet. Remy proudly talked about how she leaves all the designing to Lou, whom she claims has a green thumb and an eye for art. But when Lou decorates, she makes sure to incorporate Remy’s personality in it. This tells you that every little thing you see in this place is a reflection of Lou, Remy, and their friendship.

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In this far corner, Lou added subtle reminders of faith and prayers to hopefully bring whoever sits here into a some self-reflection.

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I took new pictures for you to see the place in a wider angle.

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That cozy chair on the lower left was my favorite spot. I told them that it is what first attracted me to them. Curious, I asked where they got it.  All their chairs and tables were bought from Pampanga. Let me repost this photo from my previous entry to give you a closer look at it again.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset

I, also, asked about the involvement of their children to this business as I got a chance to chat with Camille, Remy’s daughter, days before. None of their children are actively involved as of now. Both of them laughed and agreed that they may not be able to afford their rightful compensation. Although, they both admitted that they are not into social media and only found out about my first story from their children. Judging from the way Camille has warmly communicated with me via chat, I’d say that social media relations will be a good way to involve them.

In as much as I want to stay longer as I was enjoying our conversation, I had to leave. I have work to go to. There were two more writers/bloggers who arrived to take photos and meet them, too. I did not want to interfere and I was actually sincerely glad to see the attention this place is getting.

As for my other question – these cabinet drawers are not real. Ha! The vibrant colors were actually Lou’s way of making sure Remy’s personality is reflected. So, no books inside! No need to pull them when you visit! … But according to Remy, my entry was a wake-up call to them in considering adding more books for the customers. She said her late husband has a massive collection of books that she can bring. I, also, suggested to allow customers to pitch in a book and write dedication notes on it. I will. I can’t wait to see how their future plans will turn out soon!

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Books and Beans Cafe and Restaurant is located at the Ground Floor of Quad Alpha Centrum 125 Pioneer St. Mandaluyong City. It is in front of Cityland Pioneer. If you know where Robinsons Forum is, then you can start from either getting on a tricycle or walking, if you are up for a short workout. They are open Mondays thru Fridays 9A – 6P. They are open to discussion of opening for a private event on a Saturday. They offer delivery of packed meals and food for catering.

You may reach them thru the following:

Phone: (02) 503 9855 and (0917) 864 4090

Email: info@booksandbeansph.com

Facebook: Books & Beans

I hope you get to visit very soon.

 

If you liked this post, please park and ride with me via Facebook or Instagram.

 

 

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