Last Sunday’s message at church was about growing in love for others as an offshoot of our loving God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength illustrated with the Parable of the Good Samaritan which show the great mercy and love for a “neighbor” defined as one who was typically considered opposed to you.
This week, it was my geographical neighbors who came to the shop!
On Tuesday, I happened to be at the counter instead of kitchen when a guest placed her order. I happened to ask her name. “LJ,” she replied. That was an uncommon name so I asked what her last name was.
“Moreno,” she replied.
“Like the actress?” I asked.
“Minsan (Sometimes),” she humbly retorted with a smile.
We went on to chat and exchange mommy notes as she shared that she decided to make her predictably scheduled cake business her main concern and just on the side, take acting and hosting jobs that will permit her to spend the time she needs for her husband and kids. That resonated with my somewhat similar choice to prioritize family although I did abandon the theater track after I joined my first and only Repertory play the year my younger son was born. I wanted to be around for the once-in-a-lifetime milestones and fleeting growing-up years.
I shared with LJ that when I empty-nested, I was able to focus on my work track more seriously and without regret.
LJ owns Lollicakes Factory on West Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo just a few minutes away from the shop. They make beautiful special occasion cakes, cake pops, and sweet treats.
“Sayang, we just concluded a season of a food show I was in,” she told me as she appreciated the shop. She said that if they go on another season, she would recommend that it be featured!
Later that evening, I was by the entrance when the familiar Dr. Efren “Boy” Vasquez (an obstetrician who gave up his over twenty-year practice in favor of going into the restaurant business) walked in with his adopted son, Dr. Jun Bormate (a dermatologist who followed in his father’s footsteps). They are owners of legendary Cafe Juanita on West Capitol Drive in Kapitolyo, a short walk from the shop.
“Napanood kita kay Kris,” Doc Boy declared.
I’ve been a regular customer of theirs at Cafe Juanita, Haru, and Breakfast at Juanita’s. I’ve met Dr. Boy on a few occasions but not much more beyond our hello-and-smile exchanges. But that night, in between cooking tasks in the kitchen, I came out and sat with them and we had many laughs over shared experiences and the frank observations on the food industry by Dr. Boy. He and Dr. Jun also gave tips on operations, security, customer relations, etc.
We reminisced about the old Cafe Juanita at its old location at the corner of West Capitol Drive and United Street/East Capitol Drive. Dr. Boy shared that when people found out he intended to open a restaurant there, people were not affirming of the location but he already had a clear vision of it one day becoming a vibrant, artsy district… a little like Soho, New York. Some twenty plus years later, this once quiet neighborhood with barely any traffic has grown to be a popular foodie destination with a predominantly homegrown specialty food vibe.
We ended the impromptu get-together with Doc (Boy) declaring blessings and success over me and the business.
What an awesome gift of welcome and friendship from our loving neighbors.