“COOK WITH LOVE”: Sorsogon’s 97-year-old Cafe Agustina’s secret ingredient

SORSOGON CITY- All business establishments offer unique and interesting menu and quality service to be able to maintain its relevance in the market.

This small karenderia in Sorsogon City managed to do both and more. For the last 97 years, it maintained its giant presence in the market with one additional secret ingredient:  love! 

“Kapag ginawa mo ang trabaho mo, kapag nagluto ka, do it with your heart … Sabi nga sa bikol, anu sahog kan gulay mo? Mayad na boot which means from the heart, yun ang main ingredient, always do it with love,” Tiya Ching shared in an interview.

Since it opened in 1925, Cafe Agustina has been operating in the heart of Sorsogon. Also known as Tiya Tinay Kapihan, it is now in its 97 years and run by Julie Jing Hayag or Tiya Ching, a fourth generation owner in the family.

Apart from food, customer comfort is the best thing a business can provide, something that Café Agustina has done. 

“Be friendly to your customers and treat them as your family, ganun ang hinahanap ng tao, pagpasok mo customer ka pero parang pakiramdam mo pamilya ko [kayo] …. Ito ang pinaka sekreto dun ehh,” Tiya Ching shared another secret for her business.

Every day, they offer the best breakfast experience with a never ending combination of silog meals, coffee, heritage dishes and their best-selling kakanin and bibingka. 

“Kape, kakanin, suman lehiya the best, biko, yun ang mga kakanin na old fashioned pa na hanggang ngayon binabalik-balikan pa nila,” 

Additionally, Tiya Ching acknowledged that this food company is a work of service and assistance to others, including their employees. 

“Marami akong napag-aral, mga katulong sa tindahan at mga tindera napag-aral namin. Ito yung natutunan ko from my mother and father na kapag may gusto mag-aral na helper papag-aralin,” said Tiya Ching.

There were times Tiya Ching wanted to stop and take a break for herself but she considers the people who depends on canteen for their livelihood.

“Gusto ko na rin magpahinga, pero sabi nila, paano naman kami, so deretso lang,” Tiya Ching said.

Tiya Ching’s success story demonstrates that people prepare more than just food for others; they also care for them with genuine love. 

“Mas doble ang nararamdaman ko, kung masaya sila mas masaya ako, kung thankful sila mas thankful ako,” was Tiya Ching’s message to all her customers.

Cafe Agustina (Tya Tinay’s) is located at Gate 1 of Sts. Peter and Paul Subdivision, Brgy. Bibincahan, Sorsogon City. I via Aaron John Baluis

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