A business born out of love for coffee shops and coffee
Aspiring lawyer partners with her father in cafe venture
When she was still a sophomore at the Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, then 14-year-old Rejzl Awit took coffee lessons at Caro & Marie with hopes to open her own café someday.
But somewhere between that point and the present, those aspirations had to take the backseat as she navigated the rest of her high school life and eventually college as well.
In 2014, Awit graduated with a degree in mass communication from the University of the Philippines Cebu and is currently in her final year in law school at the University of San Carlos.
The now 24-year-old Awit said she could not help but smile as she recalled this part of her childhood, especially since she finally opened her own coffee shop just recently.
“I just realized now when I opened my own coffee shop that I tried to learn about coffee then. From second-year high school up until now, I totally forgot about it,” Awit, who manages the café, told Cebu Daily News in a mix of English and Cebuano.
Bicester Café, located in a cozy corner at Mahogany Place along Pope John Paul II Avenue in Cebu City, officially opened its doors to the public last August 24.
The business was born out of Awit’s and her dad Jerome’s love for coffee shops and coffee as well as the desire to offer more to the Cebuano market.
“We thought of making our own space and, in a way, also making it for everyone,” said Awit.
The duo, with help from their partners and investors, pooled around P5 million to launch their café business.
The daddy-daughter tandem initially planned to open the coffee shop by 2018, after the aspiring lawyer takes the Bar Exams in November that year.
But after setting their eyes on the space they have right now, it was too good of an opportunity to put off until a later time.
Mahogany Place is right smack in one of Cebu City’s busiest spots, easily accessible from the Cebu Business Park and Cebu IT Park as well as other crowded establishments.
The café’s identity, she said, is anchored on its high-quality dark roast and specialty coffee.
While she was confident of Cebu’s affinity for coffee and everything related to it, she said it would not be sustainable if not paired with food.
Awit has been a frequent coffee shop visitor since college and what she noticed over the years was that there was not much variety when it comes to food on the menu.
Complementing the café’s regular and specialty coffees is its selection of all-day brunch meals which Awit described as “comforting” and “relatable.”
Aside from sandwiches and pastries, they serve pasta and rice meals as well.
“Why not hit everything and put them together? Then you offer people more variety and you give them options when they come here,” Awit said.
She said they want to cater to both regular coffee drinkers and those who have a more sophisticated palette, mostly among students and young professionals alike.
“Cebuanos are becoming more knowledgeable about coffee, although we’re not that sophisticated yet. That’s why we’re catering to both markets, slowly introducing to them an appreciation for coffee,” she said.
Bicester Café is inspired by a place called Bicester Village, an outlet shopping center on the outskirts of Bicester, a town in Oxfordshire, England.
The village is home to designer brands such as Prada and Gucci.
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