CASA ROCES, a full-service restaurant and café right across Malacañang Palace, draws inspiration from the Roces family’s long line of freedom-fighters, pioneer journalists and artists. It was the famed clan’s quaint ancestral home after all, and it is but fitting to remember them even in a restaurant setting.
As such, when Casa Roces first opened its doors in 2011, its objective was not only to introduce a newly furbished 1930s home, but also gather friends, families and loved ones to partake of comfort food, just like the Roceses used to do.
At the entrance, a statue of the revered Joaquin “Chino” Roces greets visitors from a wooden chair. Wearing a shirt and a hat, Roces is reading The Manila Times, of course, which he shepherded through a great many years in Philippine history.
In the garden, a replica of The Manila Times’ Newsboy is also prominently displayed, what with the country’s oldest newspaper the most famous of the Roces’ media entities.
The restaurant lobby, meanwhile, pays tribute to the clan of journalists and social icons with pictures across the wall, some with past presidents of the Philipppines, industry leaders and other close and prominent friends through generations. Of course, The Manila Times newspaper is always available at the center table all day for diners to read at their pleasure.
All around the restaurant too are memorabilia from the family’s past businesses, many of which come from their years as stewards of The Manila Times. A framed “notice” even says, “The Manila Times is the only American daily paper in the Philippines, the only paper in the Philippines publishing American telegrams, the only paper in the Philippines that one cannot do without, and the only paper in the Philippines that has the news.”
Moreover, a portion of the spacious lobby is named Kape Chino, named, of course, after Roces. The area pays homage to a distinguished gentleman whose exemplary record in public service merited a Philippine Legion of Honor Award, the highest honor bestowed on a civilian.
Meanwhile on the second floor, wooden furniture from the clan’s other homes can be found. They are divided among private function rooms, each given a title from the Roceses’ publications —Liwayway, La Vanguardia, The Tribune, and The Manila Times.
“Pichie Roces-Prieto bought the house from their other relatives—the Legardas—and renovated it as a tribute to the Roces clan, most prominently Chino Roces, of course,” Marlene Carlos, senior restaurant manager of Casa Roces told The Manila Times in an interview.
“They wanted to prominently display the family’s memorabilia because there’s a lot of it,” she continued. “Why a restaurant, some ask, because besides being writers and publishers, the Roceses are also foodies. Some of the dishes we have are in fact from the recipes of their parents and grandparents including our lengua, callos and paella.”
Casa Roces further offers personalized service inspired by the Roces family’s concern for instilling “hospitality centered around food.” The establishment is therefore dedicated to serve only the finest food complemented by elegant presentations and amiable company.
“Reminders of the clan’s influential media empire, most especially bannered by The Manila Times, being on display help to add a nostalgic touch to Casa Roces,” Carlos said.