Saying goodbye (and then hello) to our favorite restaurants in 2020

2020 was not very kind, especially to the food and service industry.

As soon as the lockdown hit, restaurants big and small, local and foreign, scrambled to gather their bearings as soon as possible. Some managed to pull through (albeit by a thread), some managed to pivot (and even thrive), but some weren't so lucky, and understandably so. (READ: With lockdowns in place, small restaurants worry about staying afloat)

Drastic drops in customers, manpower, and funds, with hardly any time to prepare, ultimately led to the untimely and unfortunate demise of many well-loved Metro Manila restaurants. 2020 took them away from us, but hopefully they'll find their way back, when the world is a bit better.

Shangri-La Finest Chinese Cuisine

Shangri-La Finest Chinese Cuisine in West Triangle, Quezon City closed down in July after 37 years of business – a sudden loss large families and groups of friends grieved. The closure was due "to the challenges brought about by the ongoing pandemic," the restaurant said. (READ: Shangri-La Finest Chinese Cuisine: 5 things to know)

Since 1981, Shangri-La's spacious and festive venue has hosted reunions, grand parties, and receptions, serving casual Chinese comfort food in shareable servings.

Forest House

Baguio City's Forest House's closure hit many loyal patrons' radars. The family-owned restaurant was also frequented by Metro Manila tourists hankering for Forest House's comforting meals and warm, cozy ambiance.

The log cabin-inspired space bid their "last farewell" on June 30 after 19 years of service, calling it "an era that had to come to an end." Forest House was founded in 2001 along Loakan Road, Camp John Hay.

However, as of December, Forest House re-opened for private al fresco dining in a new location at Venus Garden, Baguio City.

The Chocolate Kiss Café

Neighborhood and campus favorite Chocolate Kiss said its final "goodbye kiss" to their customers in August as they closed down their pioneer branch in the University of the Philippines (UP) Bahay ng Alumni, which was put up in 1997.

Café owner Ina Flores Pahati said that "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," had led to the difficult decision.

Chocolate Kiss' pastries and cakes are still available for delivery from their Fairview, Quezon City commissary.

ROKU Sushi + Ramen

ROKU Sushi + Ramen, a well-known Japanese food choice among Katipunan's university students, shut its doors in May after 8 years of business.

The sushi and ramen joint at the 5th floor of Oracle Building had decided to "pause" to create something "more exciting," telling their customers that they'd "see [them] really soon."

Bo's Coffee Katipunan

Popular study hub Bo's Coffee Katipunan closed in August, much to students' dismay. "Unfortunately, the realities of the pandemic require us to make this difficult decision," the coffee chain said, also saying that they would be "back, stronger than ever, at the right time."

Bo's National Bookstore Katipunan branch, their biggest yet, operated for 24 hours daily, boasted two floors, and was frequented by students from the nearby universities pulling all-nighters or holding group study sessions.

RiceTop

Also a Katipunan staple, RiceTop Fil-Asian Comfort Food, a small restaurant located along Rosa Alvero Street, closed on November 30 after just 3 years of operations.

"Like many small businesses we struggled and pivoted and tried hard to survive," they said. RiceTop was known for serving filling fusion and silog rice bowls since 2017. Mid-lockdown, the restaurant shifted to selling cook-at-home kits, bottled sauces, frozen goods, and deli items for delivery. 

Ludo: Boardgame Bar and Cafe

After 6 years in business, Ludo: Boardgame Bar and Cafe shut their Quezon City and Makati City branches in September, hoping to be back in a new location "once everything is right in the world."

Ludo's two branches, which each had hundreds of playable games in their libraries, were located along Scout Torillo, Quezon City, and Jupiter Street, Makati. Gamer barkadas stayed until midnight on weekdays and 2 am on weekends over games, hot meals, coffee, alcoholic drinks, and bar chow.

Ludo is still offering board games for sale via its Shopee store or website.

12/10

Modern izakaya 12/10 "indefinitely signed off" on October 30 after 6 years of service, due to the "still unknown period ahead of them."

"As much as we’d love to ride the tide, 12/10 will have to take a rest for now to strengthen itself for its regrowth post-pandemic," the Japanese fine dining restaurant said. They were located along Guijo Street, Makati City.

The Wholesome Table

Restaurant and bakery The Wholesome Table had to temporarily suspend all operations on September 22 due to the effects of the pandemic, promising to come back when "the world starts to normalize."

Initially, their branches in Alabang Town Center, Bonifacio High Street, Greenbelt 2, Power Plant Mall, and Salcedo Village closed down. As of this writing, their branches in Bonifacio High Street, Greenbelt, and Salcedo Village are operational again for dine-in, take-out, and delivery.

Hole in the Wall

Century City Mall's upscale food court Hole in the Wall shut its doors for good on November 19 after a 6-year-run, sadly announcing that "[our] story has now reached its end."

The company behind the Makati-based communal dining hall told customers they can still support their pioneer stalls Bad Bird and Scout's Honor (which are now restaurant chains), as well as The Grid Food Market in Power Plant Mall. – Rappler.com

Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.

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