Break the Fourth Wall at the Cinema '76 Café With All-Day Breakfast and Dessert
It was 7:15 in the evening when I arrived at Tomas Morato to visit Cinema '76’s new home in Quezon City.
Now, if I were there for a movie, I would have been more than a half hour late to their latest screening of The Little Mermaid. But I was there for their newly opened Cinema '76 Café only a few steps away—in time for dinner with Daphne Chiu, the current President and COO of TBA Studios.
Fresh from a visit to France for the Cannes Film Festival, she took me through a short tour of the menu, sharing stories from the film industry in between.
Movies with a Meal
“We’ve been toying with the idea [for a café] even before the pandemic,” she says. As a film buff herself, Daphne says she’s always wanted to have a place to sit down and talk after watching a movie. Instead of being greeted by an empty mall or parking lot after the last screening, the cafe’s late hours (open from 9 AM until 2:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays) allow patrons to have a drink or a meal before they leave.
Before anything else, I had the Kontrabida cocktail: a brooding Negroni made with Hendrick’s Gin–a favorite of the “La Primera Kontrabida” herself, Cherie Gil. “She was a friend of TBA Studios. Glass of champagne in hand, she used to come to our Oscar screenings and we’d be surprised,” Daphne shared. “She would also ask us for orange juice — and when Cherie Gil asks for orange juice, we get that orange juice for her!” Resting on top of the ice is a twist of an orange peel, an endearing tribute to Filipino cinema’s iconic villainess.
For a kick of caffeine in the morning, they have the Producer’s Iced Cafe topped with caramel popcorn. While it’s sweet, the mellow coconut milk they use makes for an interestingly irresistible combination of flavors. The Cinema '76 Cappuccino is a similar drink that can be served warm as well.
Producer’s Iced Cafe
The Truffle Potato Wedges and the Kilig Fried Pickles are the favorites among their appetizer menu, and they make for great snacks to bring to the cinema right next to the café. If you have a sweet tooth, they boast about their Truffle Caramel Popcorn made fresh every day.
After watching a movie, stay longer to have the TBA Box Office Pasta or my personal favorite: Carson's Bagnet with a side of deliciously creamy laing, inspired by the cravings of the lead character that Maja Salvador plays in the hit 2017 film, I’m Drunk, I Love You. One bite of it and you’ll understand why Carson loved it.
If breakfast food’s what you’re after, they have the classic Chicken and Waffles on the menu and also offer the Luna, Del Pilar, and Quezon French Toast Sandwiches inspired by their historical fiction films, Heneral Luna (2015) and Goyo (2018). The Elvis Presley Crepe is a filling dessert that takes after the crooner’s favorite sandwich—with peanut butter, banana, and a sprinkling of bacon on top.
Chicken and Waffles
Elvis Presley Crepe
More Than Just a Café
The combo of sleek interiors and expertly curated menu is a far cry from their roots in San Juan and Anonas. In a way, Daphne also misses those older iterations of the cinema. She remembers how small the original Cinema '76 was in San Juan back in 2016, when she started out as a freelance producer for the studio.
“We were the first commercial micro cinema, even though technically our space was just a conference room converted to seat more people watching. We were catering to the people who really loved our local indie films,” she says. Film lovers from Baguio, Los Baños, Bacolod, and Cebu would be dedicated enough to make their way to their small cinema to spend the day watching indie movies there—because they were the only place that housed those types of films. Some of those moviegoers have supported the company even as they moved to Anonas, and eventually to their new home in Tomas Morato.
Cinema '76 Cafe Interiors
Now, their café and cinema have grown to accommodate more passionate communities. On most Tuesday nights, the café turns into a venue for Comedy Manila’s Open Mic Night. On some days, K-pop fans rent out the cinema to host streaming parties for their respective fanbases. It’s not only film communities that find a home in their space. The floor is open for different communities who need a place to celebrate their interests, whether it is in the realm of comedy, comics, or even local P-pop boy groups.
“We wanted the café to reflect the needs of our growing customer base… With our spacious dining area and a customizable menu, we can do so much more and be an ideal venue for different types of events,” says Daphne.
The Cinema '76 Café is not just a space that caters to the local film community. It’s a space built by members of it—so every aspect is built for the moviegoers’ liking. While the company has come a long way from their San Juan and Anonas cinemas, the love for film can still be felt in the space. The local film scene’s culture is injected into the menu, the interiors, and even the way they operate into the late hours of the night.
Cinema '76 Café is located on T. Morato Ave, cor Scout Borromeo St, Quezon City, Metro Manila.