The name Casa Marcos has long been known for Spanish food since the 1940s. For many decades, its original restaurant—established by Señor Marcos de Guisasola along what was then called Dewey Boulevard by the Manila Bay—was the place to go for the best gambas, steak ala pobre, and of course deliciously crusty pan de sal.
After some 20 years of success, de Guisasola became ill and sold the restaurant to his good friend and compadre Ben del Rosario, whose family ran the business with as much love and care as its namesake.
As the del Rosarios continued Casa Marcos in what eventually became Roxas Boulevard, they moved its location to Gilmore Avenue in Quezon City in the 1980s, and finally to nearby Tomas Morato where it flourished for another 20 years.
In 2000, as the new generation of Casa Marcos owners decided to explore other business opportunities, the restaurant closed its doors without any certainty of ever opening again.
Patrons of the legendary restaurant however were grateful for the initiative of del Rosario’s grandson Jigger Galvez and his business partner Kevin Khoe to open the Bread Bag Pan de Sal Bar in 2008, which featured the trademark bread of Casa Marcos.
The concept became a success, with adobo flakes, corned beef, Spanish sardines, and other traditional Filipino breakfast fares sandwiched in between the Casa Marcos pan de sal.
Soon after, the new generation restaurateurs found themselves giving in to the request of long time Casa Marcos fans, and began serving such favorites such as Tapang Baboy Damo, calamares, and Adobong Mushrooms, not to mention the gambas and Steak ala Pobre, with of course, the ever famous homemade garlicky Marcos Sauce.
“We were practically reviving the old menu of Casa Marcos that it simply made sense to reopen the restaurant again,” recalled Jigger, whose fresh choice for a location was Burgos Circle at Fort Bonifacio in February 2011.
While still running Bread Bag, the pair opened another Casa Marcos in Ortigas Home Deopt in 2012 as they continued to complete the original menu to include Almejas, Prawns Thermidor, and Paella Valenciana, among others.
“But we knew it would never be the same if we didn’t bring Casa Marcos back to what eventually became its most popular location, in Tomas Morato, Quezon City,” Jigger as their third branch went into its third month of operations February.
With the restaurant’s rich legacy, Jigger is enjoying the sight of families—often with grandparents in tow—excitedly bringing little ones into the restaurant, often with stories about special memories made over the hearty Spanish dishes many years ago.
“Now more than ever, I’ve come to realize how much history this restaurant has,” the third generation del Rosario shared. “And I do hope, I’m doing my grandfather proud.”