Triwil Herbs and Beans Café employees together with its owner

When the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in March 2020, the Office of the President first declared an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the entire Luzon in order to reduce the number of cases in the country. There had been plenty of questions and worries, especially for the micro-entrepreneurs whose businesses were considered non-essential during the pandemic.

Back then, some businesses, such as those in the food service industry, were still allowed to operate with limited operations. However, during that time, one (1) out of the 33 food service businesses registered in Pila, Laguna, was able to stand up and operate his business despite the scare of COVID19.

Mr. William N. Islao, the owner of Triwil Herbs and Beans Café, testified that although food services were allowed to operate during ECQ, it was a very difficult time for them since they had to temporarily lay off their employees to lower the head cost. Islao added that they really suffered a great loss during the pandemic, especially during ECQ. It was supposed to be a peak season for them as many gatherings were supposed to take place at that time: families were supposed to eat together after graduation ceremonies, and the bulk of passerby tourists were supposed to visit St. Anthony De Padua Church for the Lenten Season. “We lost customers since gatherings were prohibited during ECQ,” Islao also shared.

Triwil Herbs and Beans Café employees together with its owners.

With a brave heart, Islao and his wife then decided to re-open the business and explore the option to provide pick-up and delivery services within the Pila, Laguna, area only, even though it was only him and his wife who did all the work in the restaurant. Islao said that, luckily, a lot of their patron customers started to call and send inquiries on their Facebook page if they could deliver their food, and that was the start of another beginning.

At that time, one of the challenges they encountered was the availability of raw materials since there was no certainty that raw ingredients would be available in the market because there had been delays in delivery. What they did was they catered to orders received the day before so that there would be time for preparations. They stuck to their basic rule and still provided good-quality food to their customers. “I didn’t want the quality of our food to degrade just because of a missing ingredient and make the business suffer big time because we could possibly lose a return customer.” Islao also shared that they wanted to still give the same “restaurant feel” to their customers—the experience they get when they dine-in—even if it was home delivered. Some food may get soggy or tough if not consumed immediately, so the timing of delivery was very important as to the quality of ingredients.

Now that it has been two years since the pandemic occurred, Islao attested that it was never an easy journey, but it was not time to give up. With an end in their minds, they still uphold their values to provide “a venue where people will satisfy their cravings”. Triwil Herbs and Beans Café has been in business for six (6) years now, and until now, they are still trying to figure out how they will be able to survive in the new normal.

With the ease in restrictions that the government implemented, the couple expressed their appreciation that everything was almost going back to how it was before the pandemic. They were happy to be able to serve their patrons and new customers again. Moreover, they were able to hire more employees to help them cater to their clients.

Little by little, they are strengthening their social media presence. They have relied so much on their social media presence to let the customers know that they are able to deliver clean, safe, and quality foods in the comfort of their homes. Islao said that the internet and social media have become one of the vital parts of their business, especially with their current situation. Together with his wife, Islao learned and participated in different webinars hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Laguna Provincial Office. Both of them work hand in hand to ensure the success of their business. Despite the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are so grateful that they were able to stand and continue to run their venture. ♦

Date of Release: 12 July 2022