Opening a café is tricky business. But to do it amid a pandemic? Now, that takes guts.

The passion project of Kar, Josh, Gaea and Norton (who prefer to be known by their first names) has become Granville, a new neighborhood café inspired by Australian and Canadian coffee culture. This new spot in San Juan was conceived because of the four friends’ love for travel, where food and coffee shops became precious finds along the way. 

“We decided to bring a little spark to the community instead of waiting around for things to get better,” says Kar of the timing of their business.

Despite having come from totally different fields—finance, interior design, manufacturing, and aviation—the four friends were able to open Granville as a place for escape where people feel safe and comfortable while enjoying quality coffee, food, and, yes, beer.

What's unique about Granville is that they offer local craft beer in their menu
What’s unique about Granville is that they offer local craft beer in their menu

With people compelled to stay home since last year, the group thought some headspace and change of scenery would be welcome. That’s why they prefer dine-in instead of takeout or delivery, which would have lessened overhead costs considerably. It’s like travel—catching a glimpse of the outside world through ambiance, food, and drinks, they thought. Being pet-friendly also makes Granville a fun environment.

Craft beer makes for a distinct difference in this café setting. For Kar, offering craft beer offers a unique flavor experience, especially when paired with the café’s starters, pasta, and meat dishes. Craft beer even goes with their desserts like soy soft serve. 

Nipa Brew's craft beer is a perfect pair with Granville's soy soft serve
Nipa Brew’s craft beer is a perfect pair with their soy soft serve

Since the owners wanted Granville to be a place where beer and coffee drinkers can get together, they partnered with local brewery Nipa Brew whose beers are inspired by Philippine flavors as well as the country’s climate and scenery.

“As a café owner, this allows us to foster a sense of community by promoting local vendors. Based on our own experiences, great conversations and ideas can come from a good cup of coffee or a glass of beer,” says Kar.

As a specialty coffee shop, Granville offers fresh roasted beans sourced locally. For its milk-based coffee, the beans used are 60 percent Atok, Benguet and 40 percent Malaybalay, Bukidnon. The long black has beans that are 50 percent Atok, Benguet and 50 percent Sultan Kudarat.

“We offer products that people would want to keep coming back for. Innovation is important. We also offer best practices to keep guests and employees safe,” says Kar.

As a specialty coffee shop, Granville sources their beans locally
As a specialty coffee shop, Granville sources their beans locally

He believes that the best way to reach customers at this time is through social media, particularly Instagram and Facebook. According to him, a large portion of their guests learned about the café through their social media platforms.

But the group’s long-term goal? To have a place where guests would feel secure enough to leave home for. Kar notes that cafés have become meeting places in communities. Under the new normal, however, certain procedural changes need to take place.

“All of us are facing a crisis in one way or another. Businesses that adapt to change and the new normal and support each other will come out stronger,” says Kar.