SINCE face-to-face classes have become more frequent in UST, Thomasians are on the hunt for the next food adventure inside and outside the University. The wide array of choices makes the phrase “kahit saan (anywhere)” more of a dilemma.

But behind the hype surrounding these destinations, many eateries are still struggling. 

Barcollie, the eatery along P. Noval St. iconic for hot plate dishes like fried chicken and sisig, had its soft reopening last Feb. 1, serving a new batch of students generally unaware of its existence.

“Soft opening lang kasi hindi na kami kilala. All [of] our old customers have graduated,” the owner of Barcollie, who refused to be named, told the Varsitarian.

“Remember, our market is the students. Without the students, ‘di kami mag-oopen.”

Barcollie started in 2007 by serving pancit canton and hotdogs. The sister of the current owner previously ran it until they decided to both manage the eatery in 2012. In the same year, they started offering their current menu, remaining unchanged ever since.

Like many other restaurants around UST, however, Barcollie had to close during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mami Chula, located along Rosarito St. in Dapitan Ave., also decided to conduct only a soft reopening on Aug. 10, 2022, stressing the unpredictability of their target market.

May mga hours na late kami nagsa-start, depende sa schedule niyo [Thomasians],” Janet Rosario, the owner of Mami Chula, told the Varsitarian.

Mami Chula offers breaded chicken, pork and tofu meals accompanied by a sauce – gravy, cheese, curry or ala king.

It first opened its doors in 2016 under the name Red Bowl at a former food park along Navarra St. in Dapitan Ave. After its lease ended, the eatery was moved to its current location with a new name, Mami Chula, a reference to Rosario’s nickname among her friends.

Rosario said that she often takes money from her own pocket to ensure that her employees can still earn an income and the business breaks even, especially since the eatery is not regularly open.


Saved by Thomasian tambays (bystanders) two years ago, Heaven’s Taste, formerly known as Heaven’s Touch Cuisine, is in competition with dim sum houses to capture the hearts and attention of Thomasians.

Nung dumating si siomai, si dim sum, ang laki talaga ng binaba nung benta. From P25,000, naging P10,000 kasi si siomai na ‘yung bumangga,” Heaven’s Taste manager Ligaya Piadoche-Cordova, or more affectionately referred to as Nanay Gay, told the Varsitarian days before her death on March 7.

Her son, Reggie Piadoche, observed that the stiff competition boils down to waiting times. 

Kasi [‘yung] siomai mabilis compared sa ibang mga karinderya […] may katagalan talaga ‘yung serving kasi talagang niluluto pa talaga namin,” he told the Varsitarian.

Heaven’s Taste, Piadoche admitted, couldn’t compete with newly established restaurants that are air-conditioned and well-decorated in Dapitan Ave. and P. Noval St.

Hindi namin kayang tapatan [‘yun] kasi siyempre, ‘yung budget pa lang namin, kita niyo naman ‘yung restraints pa lang sa budget, [ang] hirap lumaban,” he said.

Its roots began when Piadoche-Cordova took over the struggling eatery in 2004 and redeveloped it in 2006 to become the Heaven’s Touch that became home for many Thomasians, some of which ate their breakfast, lunch and dinner there.

Heaven’s Touch closed on June 2, 2021, because the building where it had operated was sold to a new owner. Just three months later, it reopened to a new name and location in Concepcion St. after Thomasians, led by Renz Tabora II, raised more than P60,000.

For eateries, the price of their products is a weapon to survive in the competitive food market, as Thomasians, in Piadoche’s view, are frugal.

“‘Di namin siya nilakihan (prices) kasi we are just trying to introduce ourselves again,” the Barcollie owner said.

But lower prices come with a cost: With the rising prices of ingredients, these eateries grapple to make ends meet.

Maliit lang talaga ang tubo namin. Malakas ang expenses so hindi ganun kalaki ang aming profit,” the Barcollie owner admitted. “Ngayon pa lang kami nagta-try bumawi.”

Above all, owners have reason to be confident they will bring in new patrons: the experience their places give.

“Ang habol namin kasi [] at least ma-try man lang ng mga students [‘yung food]. Then, kapag na-try, syempre masarap, ‘dun uulit,” Piadoche said. With reports from Jaqueline B. Martinez


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