Right at that heart of Barangay Kamuning, part of the old Quezon City, lies what is perhaps now the most famous bakery in the city, and undeniably one of the country’s most famous bakeries that is not a bakeshop chain. It has gotten a lot of buzz in recent years thanks to heavy social media promotion. (more on that in a bit) So much that some, mainly from those who have been there, are skeptical about the hype being generated.
But here at the Urban Roamer, we go beyond the hype and check things for ourselves. So today,we shall be checking out the Kamuning Bakery and Cafe and see what it has to offer, beyond the buzz it has created.
For one, the Kamuning Bakery and Cafe is hard to miss as it is right along Judge Jimenez Street corner K-1st Street, the former being a main thoroughfare where jeepneys going to and from East Avenue and/or Fairview would pass by. Exterior-wise, it bears the same old quaint neighborhood bakery look, betraying what it has to offer when you step in their premises.
Kamuning Bakery and Cafe prides itself as a “bakery with a history” and that is no mere claim. It is after all the oldest bakery in Quezon City, tracing it roots to way back in 1939, a history somewhat intrinsically tied with the history of Quezon City itself. It was one of the first structures to rise in Kamuning which back then was part of a site where the first government housing project was set up in the 1930s during the Commonwealth era. It was opened by a business-minded couple Marcelo and Leticia Bonifacio, who owned operating a successful bakeshop in Manila called Los Baños Bakery.
It is said that Alejandro Roces Sr., the media magnaate and friend of then Pres. Manuel Quezon, convinced the couple to open a bakery in the newly-established city. Thus Kamuning Bakery was born over the years, it has gained a loyal following not only among the residents of Kamuning but patrons from outside the community as well with the likes of author/journalist Nick Joaquin, food writer Doreen Fernandez, and even the late Pres. Cory Aquino with the quality of the bread and pastries they serve, baked in traditional pugon ovens.
But as the 21st century dawned, Kamuning Bakery fell into hard times as the original owners’ children were having difficulty maintaining the business. Enter Wilson Lee Flores, writer and businessman who came in to help the bakery get back on its feet. In the process, he acquired majority ownership of the bakery while one of the children remaining as minority shareholder. The old bakery was renovated and its product line was expanded while still maintaining the classic artisanal methods of baking their bread. Mr. Flores also harnessed the power of social media as he promoted the bakery as much as he can to attract new customers while keeping the prices affordable and competitive with other bakeries.
Business soon picked up again as Kamuning Bakery gained more customers in the process. Emboldened by the success of the revitalized bakery, Wilson decided to expand the business. That came in early 2015 when he opened a cafe restaurant in the adjoining part of the property, serving premium bread creations, meals, and coffee in a classic Philippine suburban vibe of sorts.
But going back to the earlier question, is the hype for real? If you ask the Urban Roamer, the answer is yes! It is one of the few neighborhood bakeries that offers so much but manages to maintain the affordability, the atmosphere, and the quality of food the bakery has long been known for despite the changes over the years.
And with a lot of good things happening for Kamuning Bakery and Cafe, there is reason to be optimistic that it will continue to be a beloved bakery for years to come, hopefully up to its 100th year and beyond.
Acknowledgements as well to the Philippine Daily Inquirer