It is with sad hearts that we bid farewell to the first site of Cafe by the Ruins on Chuntug Street, across City Hall.
Not too long after the celebration of its anniversary, Cafe by the Ruins caught fire just last April, causing significant damage to the establishment. With that, the co-owners of the enterprise have decided to cease operations in that site.
Cafe by the Ruins held its final cañao on July 20 as a farewell ceremony and official public announcement of its closure. The cañao was attended by most of the co-owners of the company, along with their family and friends, Baguio artists, writers, media men, and other lives who have been connected to Cafe by the Ruins.
A Restaurant Filled with History
The site was first known as The Garden Theater, Baguio’s first outdoor theater, during the early 20th century. It was remodeled in 1920 as a gallery for woodcarvings and home of Phelps Whitmarsh, a businessman and civil governor.
In 1945, the house was damaged by American carpet bombing, leaving behind the four concrete arches which would later provide the iconic aesthetic for Cafe by the Ruins when it opened on 1988. The restaurant was founded by a soul-family of artists – Adelaida Lim, Christina Arvisu, Louie Llamado, Su O’Donnell, Roberto Villanueva, Dave Baradas, Baboo Mondoñedo, Boy Yuchengo, and Ben Cabrera.
The restaurant grew throughout the years, withstood calamities such as the devastating 1990 earthquake, and made its mark on Baguio through its contributions to the culinary, cultural, and artistic scenes of the city. In 2010, the establishment handed down ownership to its second generation, comprised of Feliz Perez, Celestina and Andre Arvisu, Lia Llamado, Nap and Taña Villanueva, Tootsy Echauz-Angara, Miggz Santos, and Jasmine Cabrera.
In 2014, Cafe by the Ruins DUA was opened in Upper Session Road. This year, 2017, Ruins, Inc celebrated its 29th anniversary.
Cafe by the Ruins, a Beloved Baguio Icon
Perhaps it’s Cafe by the Ruins’ commitment to serving organic dishes or its raw, artistic aesthetic that makes the restaurant one of the most visited places in Baguio, by locals and tourists alike. In its own right, it has become a spearheader for the movement of the establishment of restaurants with artistic influences in terms of ambiance and modern twists on classic Filipino dishes.
But what makes the place truly memorable are the people – those who have built it, served it, and dined in it.
It is disheartening that we can no longer relive the birthday celebrations, family gatherings, or even simple afternoon coffee dates in the exact same setting. BUT…
As Celestina Arvisu said in their last press release, though “this chapter in the ledger of Cafe by the Ruins closes, the company will open its next enterprise at another environment.” And that is something we hold onto. This isn’t the end for Cafe by the Ruins, but a new beginning to look forward to.
Besides, we still have Cafe by the Ruins DUA