Café for book lovers and board gamers

Valderueda and Orallo

For education alumni Kenneth Orallo and Daniel Valderueda, teaching goes beyond the four corners of the classroom.

The two turned random paper cutouts and bare studio space into a backyard-themed café for book lovers and board game enthusiasts, The Bookyard Café.

The Bookyard Café, which opened last March, can be seen as a garden in the middle of gray concrete buildings.

The two young entrepreneurs decided to start the business while reviewing for the Licensure Examination for Teachers. They finished their bachelor’s degrees in secondary education in 2015.

“We decided to open a book café because teaching is not only limited inside the classroom,” the 22-year-old Orallo said in an interview with the Varsitarian. “We want to feed not only [the customers’] stomachs but also their minds by encouraging them to read books.”

The small yet cozy café is decorated with white picket fences, bean bags, wooden crates and a tree-shaped shelf that hold local and international authors of young adult and classic novels.

“Reading has a lot of benefits like expanding our vocabulary and even bringing readers to far-away places through their imagination. [We] wanted to create a place where someone could read, appreciate, and share the magic of books,” Orallo said.

The café also has card and board games that the customers can borrow and play with, including Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, Dominos and Uno.

Their menu is inspired by book authors such as John Green Tea (Matcha Green Tea frappe), Lang Leavmonade (Pink Lemonade) and Nichocolas Sparks (European Dark Chocolate frappe). Other mouthwatering menu items served are nachos, fries, and churros. Beverages range from frappes to milkshakes.

Do-it-yourself and self-study

The duo surprised everyone when they were able to open the café in just a month. They did not take any course related to food, beverage and entrepreneurship, but this did not stop them from being hands-on with their business. The two did not hire anyone to design the interior and mind the store. They take shifts as the café’s baristas, cooks, advertisers, servers and even dishwashers.

“In college, both of us cooked and made drinks during our spare time. We did everything through trial and error,” Orallo said. “We asked our family and friends to taste our food and drinks and we plan to take up courses in the near future so we can add more skills.”

Despite some challenges, the two kept their resolve and sought the help of friends and family to jumpstart their business. They strived to cut expenses through “do-it-yourself” activities, from their café decors to their pastel walls. The colorful books above the kitchen are about 70 years old, most of them donated by family members. The tree-shaped bookshelf that completed the whole look of the café was designed by Orallo when he cut its silhouette on paper.

Orallo said one of his proudest moments was finishing all the required paperwork and cutting the ribbon when the restaurant opened to the public.

“Success isn’t an easy thing to measure. You can’t say that you’re successful in just a span of two years. What’s important is that you enjoy the company of your customers because that in itself is already success,” said Orallo.

Bookyard expansion

Valderueda said being graduates of the College of Education taught them how to market their café and interact with their customers. He said he considered building everything from scratch and seeing things fall into place as a “reward.”

One of the duo’s goals is to open a mini-library called The Bookyard Express, which will be the size of a small shipping container or container van. According to Orallo, the mini-library will be located at various places where people can eat, read and relax.

Another plan is to put up “The Bookyard Lounge” which will be a bigger version of the Bookyard Café and can accommodate more customers and a wider selection of menu and books. M.G.C. Esmaya and V.A. Ocampo


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