BAGUIO CITY, Benguet—A landmark Chinese restaurant along Session Road has announced on Monday it will close down on January 1 after 39 years of serving its famous crispy pancit canton, stuffed tofu and fried chicken to loyal customers.
Baguio Mandarin Restaurant, which has been a popular venue for wedding receptions, anniversaries, baptismal and birthday celebrations, will end a long history of service to residents of the city.
“We are losing business to malls and global food chains that sprouted all over Baguio’s Central Business District,” said Mark Perez, the third generation of the pre-war Chinese family that migrated to the city and set-up the restaurant.
Baguio Mandarin Restaurant was established in October 1975 by George Leung Perez and his partner Basilio Gochu (who eventually sold his shares to Sonny del Rosario). The restaurant became a favorite hangout of businessmen and professionals because of its good food and friendly service.
Mandarin followed the closure a few years back of the iconic Star Cafe and Sunshine Panciteria. They have been losing business to restaurants inside the malls and fast-food chains in various parts of the city.
Perez said the most difficult part of closing shop was cutting off a long relationship with customers and leaving behind employees, who have served the restaurant for decades..
“Almost half of our employees, especially the kitchen staff have been with us for more than 30 years. It is with a heavy heart that we will be parting with them,” Perez said.
He said old-time shops and restaurants represent the Old Baguio that everyone loved and city officials should look at their plight and give them incentives or protection against international competition.
Small shops and restaurants shaped Baguio’s business landscape for years and “Baguio will not be Baguio without the original businesses.
“City officials can help us to ease our burden by offering us incentives not to close shop rather than giving these incentives to multinational and global brands that are coming into the city and slowly eating up our small business,” Perez said.