Filipinos on nostalgia trip as The Chocolate Kiss Café announces closure after over 2 decades

August 4, 2020 - 12:30 PM
Chocolate Kiss Cafe
Interior of The Chocolate Kiss Café on this photo uploaded by The Chocolate Kiss on its Facebook on Aug. 3, 2020. (Photo from The Chocolate Kiss Cafe via Facebook)

Filipinos were met with nostalgia as homegrown café The Chocolate Kiss is set to close the doors of its first branch inside the University of the Philippines-Diliman after more than two decades of serving the local community and wandering public.

The well-loved café-restaurant announced that it would permanently close its flagship branch on August 24 to scale down its operations after almost five months of government-imposed lockdown in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ina Flores Pahati, the daughter of café founder Maline Flores made the announcement on its website, saying that Chocolate Kiss “has always relied on high volume in sustaining its operations.”

“The losses already incurred since the start of ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), and the prospect of not being able to operate at full capacity for an indeterminable period, has led to this difficult decision,” she added.

“The world was shook this year by the pandemic. Everyone is forced to face a new normal and navigate uncharted territories. Just as my family’s life was unexpectedly changed for the better when the Café opened 23 years ago, I wait in anticipated breath for the best fruit to come out of this pruning,” Pahati said.

Chocolate Kiss will still continue to serve its signature cakes and entrées through its commissary at Fairview, Quezon City for pick-up and takeout.

The closure of its flagship branch, meanwhile, spurred Filipinos to share their fondest memories in the 23-year-old restaurant-café that served not just delectable treats and meals, but an overall sanctuary which welcomed anyone.

“It’s the end of an era. Noong panahong wala pa masyadong conyo sa UP, pinag-iipunan ang pakikipag-date doon. Will miss their devil’s food cake, dayap chiffon cake, date walnut cake, and beef stroganoff,” writer-editor Stefan Punongbayan said.

He also described the café’s distinct taste of its iced tea as the “real tea.”

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, a UP alumnus and former dean of the UP College of Law, considers this well-loved café a “special place.”

A Twitter user also mentioned how the café was integral to her memories as an “iska” or a UP student.

“My first day in grad (graduate) school at UP, my cousin took me to lunch at Chockiss. It was also her first day in the PhD program. Our pamangkin joined us. First day rin niya sa undergrad. Di ko makalimutan yun. Start of many, many UP memories,” she wrote.

Another online user mentioned that the café was the “last pre-COVID place” she went to and hung out with a friend.

“Just realized that ChocKiss was my last pre-COVID place. From our last meeting for Speech Cup, I went here to finish my Lingg exam and meet a friend ANG SAD TALAGA,” she said.

A Filipino shared a picture taken inside the café wherein they celebrated a birthday after UP’s Lantern Parade.

“Post-Lantern/B-day celeb with Jaz & Olyn. What makes Chockiss special is it’s where you go with the people you love huhu,” he wrote.

Another student shared that the café was one of her “fave study spots” and mentioned it was where she and her father “would always eat together” whenever he would visit her in UP Diliman.

Because several patrons of the café wanted Chocolate Kiss to continue its operations, some online users launched #SaveChocolateKiss to help boost its sales.

Online user Fiona Bacani uploaded the menu and contact details of the café where the public can order their favorites.

Comfort food

In September 1997, Chocolate Kiss opened its first branch on the second floor of the Bahay ng Alumni in the Diliman campus of the state university with the “humble intention” of giving the community a “new dining experience” and an “alternative to college canteens.”

Pahati shared that her mother and aunt “kept a good eye on what came out of the kitchen.”

“They treated the dining room as if they were entertaining guests in their own homes. Their meticulousness worked, I suppose, because customers from all sorts of background visited, and kept coming back,” she added.

Pahati said that the café served everyone through the years, from casual friends to tidied-up couples. It was also graced by some government officials, VIPs and celebrities.

“People felt comfortable to come as they were, and we loved how it was that way,” she said.

The café also made its way to several food and travel blogs, as well as lifestyle websites, where people documented its delectable treats such as the sinful, frosting-covered Devil’s Food Cake, the light and fruity Dayap Chiffon Cake and other specialties such as chicken kiev and hickory smoked spareribs.