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'Goodbye Kiss': The Chocolate Kiss Café to close in UP Diliman

The Chocolate Kiss, the iconic restaurant and café at the University of the Philippines (UP) Bahay ng Alumni, will be closing down.

It will later be scaling down its operations nearly 5 months after lockdowns were first implemented in Metro Manila due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In a long and heartfelt message to their patrons, café owner Ina Flores Pahati said they would be permanently closing the UP Bahay ng Alumni restaurant. Business will continue via their commissary in Fairview, Quezon City, but will scale down to only desserts and pastries by August 23. 

“The Café has always relied on high volume in sustaining its operations. The losses already incurred since the start of ECQ, and the prospect of not being able to operate at full capacity for an indeterminable period, has led to this difficult decision,” explained Ina in a post on their website, which also serves as a portal for orders and deliveries. 

“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. In the meantime, we will go back to our roots of baking cakes...and who knows where that sweet road may lead us,” she added. 

Moments, special and mundane

The Chocolate Kiss first opened at the 2nd floor of the UP Bahay ng Alumni building inside the UP Diliman campus in 1997. Ina, the daughter of café cofounder Maline Flores, was only in grade school when they first opened their doors. 

Ina explained that it was the result of her mom and aunt’s dream – to give the UP community “a new dining experience, and an alternative to college canteens.”

“It became a hangout of sorts, though everyone in the family pitched in in ways we could. We taste-tested and critiqued what would be put on the menu (best job yet!) My siblings, who are both from the UP College of Fine Arts, got involved in some design aspects of the business, such as the interiors, product packaging, and posters. I learned how to work the cash register machine and do cash counts. Little did I know that I would eventually oversee the Café’s operations full time,” she said. 

The first few years, she recalled, were set to the the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack. In their farewell post, Ina mused that the eventual influx of customers might have had something to do with the song “A Kiss to Build a Dream On,” which is featured in the album. 

Ina thanked the tens of thousands of patrons who visited their café through the years. “Thank you for trusting us to be part of your lives’ special, as well as everyday moments. Thank you for gifting our cakes to your teacher, best friend, or crush. Thank you for inviting your loved ones over, even if they considered a drive to Quezon City a field trip! You brought our dining room to life,” she wrote. 

For orders, you may visit The Chocolate Kiss’ official website– Rappler.com