Perched on the corner of Sct. Tuazon and Dr. Lazcano streets, Romulo Café stands out in the otherwise idyllic Barangay Laging Handa in Quezon City. The restaurant’s stark monochrome palate, simple lines and clean shapes make it pretty hard to miss in a row of aging trees and old houses.
Sandie Romulo Squillantini is a part-owner and one of the founders of the restaurant. “Several years ago, my husband came up with an idea and said ‘I want to put up a restaurant in honor of your Lolo.’” Sandie is the granddaughter of the great Carlos P. Romulo, a man whose accomplishments on both the international and local stages remain unsurpassed to this day.
“We were set on opening in Makati,” Sandie said, “when a friend of ours told us to look here.” With no real agenda, and little to no expectations, Sandie and her partners went to Quezon City to look around. “I don’t know Quezon City all that well, so I had no idea what we would find.” Their exploration led them to an old, two-story home that was looming over the corner of two main roads. The property screamed potential, so Sandie showed it to famed interior designer Ivy Almario on a succeeding visit and the deal was sealed. “Ivy said ‘Wow! I can do something really nice with this space, ‘” recalls Sandie.
“Our intention is for people to come to us and feel at home. We want people to feel like they are coming into our house as our invited guests,” Sandie explained. As much as the space feels like the modern version of a Romulo home, this intention is best expressed through the restaurant’s menu. “Our food is really lutong bahay,” Sandie says. “Most of the recipes we use are for dishes that have been enjoyed in our family for generations.”