I’ve wanted to open a vegetarian café for a long time. While visiting my sister Giovanna Mabanta in London in 1996, I saw how easy it was to eat healthily. I was also exposed to the idea of vegetarian food being mainstream.
I then got excited with the idea of setting up a cosy place that would serve tasty, hearty meals with both vegetarian and vegan (no eggs, no dairy) dishes, and to present the food as great comfort food but with no meat. This was something new for Manila.
To test the market, my friend Michelle & I sold vegetarian food at organic markets and bazaars for a year, after which I felt ready to launch the café, supported by good friends and family. I had a clear idea of the sort of neighbourhood cafe I wanted, which would create a little community-like feel attracting like-minded people. After meeting with several malls, this tiny spot next to a large narra tree on a corner of Jupiter Street, Makati became available. The location provided our name and we opened the Corner Tree Café on 25 May 2009.
The cafe has since attracted a wide range of customers — from office workers, expats, teenagers, elderly people, children (believe it or not), backpackers, yogis, weight-watchers to plain healthy eaters. In fact, our customers are people who simply like good food (meat or no meat) and many are actually carnivores! It is a place that serves simple, down-to-earth, good food and also offers great desserts, coffee & tea, smoothies, wine, beer & spirits. The soft music is cool too.
It is a friendly welcoming place for groups, romantic dates, families; even for the lone customer just wanting to have a meal while reading a book (we have books on the shelves if you don’t have any) or catching up on work. Our customers often end up chatting with the people next to them and sometimes form lasting friendships with them.
Because of our growing consciousness, we are able to make better choices for our health, the animals’ and our planet’s well-being. We feel it is the right time and place to contribute to this positive growth.