Fiona Patricia S. Escandor shares the story behind a young foodie and her quirky cafe
Café Caw was born out of a hobby. Fashioned after cutesy Korean cafés that are homey and colorful, the little nook was envisioned by owner Carol Tan Unjo-Park to be her “happy place.”
Her goal was simple, and that place was where she was going to do one of her passions: food preparation.
Carol’s quirky but cozy, 15-seater café serving waffles, cupcakes and chicken steak, was opened in Banilad in April last year.
Since she really had not seen herself delving deeper in the industry, Carol said the café across Bright Academy was meant to be the first and the last — but apparently luck had other plans for her.
Earlier this month, an opportunity came leading Carol to open her second branch in Lahug. It has bigger space — a two-floor dining area with funky chairs that can accommodate 50 — and an expanding menu, which as always, shows choices of familiar-tasting, comfort food.
“It’s just something I like to eat,” Carol said, referring to the menu.
Having studied abroad for seven years, Carol said that some of the items there were inspired by food she has tried from her travels, such as the green tea cupcake and japadog. (The latter, she explained, is sausage that’s seasoned with wasabi, nori and teriyaki mayo, but actually originated from Canada.)
Carol finished her diploma in hospitality management from Vancouver Premiere College, and her degree from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.
She specialized in restaurants and resorts, but insisted that there was “nothing culinary” about it, and that much of what she knows now she learned through experience.
She is a self-taught cook, she said. Growing up, she had a lot of free time and a big kitchen in their home and so she figured: what else is there to do but cook and bake?
Carol began doing so when she was still in her elementary years and when she lived abroad for her studies, her skills were honed.
“I didn’t have formal training,” she admitted. “It’s plainly a hobby and something I grew up doing. I would always see my mom cooking, and I think I got it from her.”
Youngest of three
Carol is the youngest of three siblings. Her older sister, Cherith, is also in the food and beverage industry and owns the milk tea chain Bubble Bee Tea House.
The young foodie shared that the word “Caw” is actually her nickname and that the logo, an illustration of a little girl, is her signature.
“It started when I was young. Whenever I would write memos to my dad, I would draw that because I was too lazy to write my name. Then when we were coming up with the logo, my brother goes, “Why don’t you use that?” she said.
Carol returned to Cebu in 2010, and since then she has been helping out in her family’s trucking business. Then as a newlywed, she also recently took part in her husband’s construction biz.
With the three hats that the she has to wear one after the other, Carol said that what keeps her going with running Café Caw are her family and friends’ encouragement.
Coupled with the fact that it’s her hobby and happy place rolled into one, who knows, a third branch could just be in the works soon?
*The first Café Caw is across Bright Academy along Gov. M. Cuenco Ave. in Banilad while the newly opened second branch is in SSY Business Center on Salinas Drive, Lahug. Like them on Facebook at facebook.com/CafeCaw.