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The new buzz in Pinoy café experience

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By Ellen Desear Espiritu

Successful entrepreneurs always say when an opportunity knocks, grab it while it’s there, otherwise, you lose the chance of a lifetime. The owners of the new Tablea Café did just that.

Boy/Nida Geronimo, Keith/Jen Vieyra and Alain/Mae Buena have long been pondering on the thought of managing a café/restaurant. When Jen spotted a perfect location at the new Marriott Waters Shopping Centre at 945 Thompsons Road Lyndhurst while on maternity leave as Mad Cap Café’s manager, she pitched the idea to her business partners, and they instantly liked the idea.

“We all got so excited at the thought of finally having an outlet where we can express our passion for food and a venue for us to share our Filipino style cuisine,” Mae said.

It is exciting indeed not just for the owners, but for the Filipino community as well since there are only a handful of Filipino cafés or restaurants in Melbourne of this calibre.

The excitement was evident in the number of customers who showed up on the opening day last 6 February despite the fact that it was a weekday and the temperature was a scorching 34 degrees. Early morning customers already queued outside before the café opened, hoping to grab a good-tasting coffee in the area before they go to work, or drop the kids off to school.

When it opened the buffet dinner at 7pm and Sony Cajili’s band (Fernan, Darrel, Jana with Joey Santos) started to play Latin music, Tablea Café instantly attracted the crowd, and the live music continued with the wonderful performances of Kelebek of X Factor and singer/songwriter/author Czarina Lapus.

With its strategic location on a corner block, clear glass floor-to-ceiling windows, modern furniture, and warm ambience, this café shortly pass the shopping centre’s entrance can’t be missed. What makes Tablea Café stand out from the rest is that it offers not only what’s on the usual coffee shop menu of croissants, toasties, burgers, buffalo wings, crispy chicken, chips, rib eye steak, and salmon.

“We will run our Filipino Fare highlighting our traditional breakfast – tapsilog, losilog, and tosilog – and serve (these) all day,” Mae said. “Together with these palatable dishes, you will find our asado with garlic rice, atchara and halo-halo. We will run Pinoy specials every now and then.”

Tablea Café’s market is mainly the local community at the moment. The owners continue to operate their catering business for private functions such as christening, birthdays, and anniversaries. Their menu is flexible and can fit any budget.

In the meantime, they are living the dream of having their own business and are more than happy to have invested in this prime location.

“Marriott is a promising investment,” Mae added. “People are now moving to suburbs and it is a very good market to tap. People would have an option of not going near the city to have a nice decent meal if they want to eat out. Later on, we aim to slowly introduce more and more Filipino flavour cooking and be unique in our own way so keep an eye on that.”

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