196-A Katipunan Ave., Blue Ridge A., Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Monica Barretto, Allan Madrilejos, Geth Savellano and Eric Enriquez used to hang out at a place called Border Grill after work and after badminton sessions. They spent so much time there that when the owner was leaving for the United States, he offered to sell the place to them.We joked about buying the place because we loved it so much. But we werent really ready then, says Barretto.Border Grill soon became Inihaw Republic under a new owner, and Monica and her friends remained regulars there. But the owner of Inihaw Republic soon became busy with his catering business and decided to sell the bar too, asking the group if they wanted to take over.This time, we said yes. Buying the bar was like a full circle moment for us. We hung out there all the time, that was where our friendship grew. We witnessed the bars transition. We saw it change and now we own it, Barretto says.Inihaw Republic is now known to people as Route 196. Although its official relaunch took place just last month, Barretto and her friends have actually been running the bar since October last year.More than a barPeople troop to Route 196 to watch the many bands that play there, but Barretto is quick to stress that theyre not just about music. Route 196 is a bar and restaurant that pushes music and art.We promote all kinds of good music, not just rock and roll. We believe in Filipino musicians and that over- and under-the-radar bands deserve an audience. Were not a hardcore gallery but we will definitely put more art in the bar. We will be having exhibits. We have the Lomolounge, a room with walls that are covered with lomographs by LomoManila.Route 196 doesnt run out of bands and musical acts that keep people coming back.Every other Monday, we have Juan Pablo Dreams Mod Day Mondays. Other acts that regularly play include guitar duo Cacoy and Johnnoy; Pinoy rock legends The Jerks; and a super galing band from Baguio called The Spaceflower Show. We also have productions like Sweetspot Night, Ninja Kiss, Revolver, Cubism, Last Full Show and soon Terno Nights that will feature really talented indie bands. Route 196 is the only place where youll catch Hannah of SessionRoad doing a solo acoustic set.The owners get a kick out of letting different bands build rapport with other bands and with the Route 196 audience. Its a great mix of bands of diverse influences and its always thrilling seeing them sharing views, supporting each other. May community, adds Barretto.Route 196 also has iPod night. You can bring your iPod and play your playlistaround six to seven songs.Although there is a lot of focus on entertainment, food did not take a backseat in the owners list of priorities.We all decided on what type of food we will be serving but the actual recipes were developed by co-owner and chef Geth Savellano. Were constantly coming up with new dishes, says Barretto.Bestsellers include the pizzas, the spicy wings, salpicao, chicken fingers, fish and chips, pork sisig, nachos and tuna sisig.Barretto recommends that first-timers try the Noypi Pizza (kesong puti and tinapa); Tinapa Roll; Chili Cheese Sticks (We use flautas instead of lumpia wrapper); Herb Chicken; Tofu BBQ; and Pepper-seared Tuna.Right now we also have a promo for beerstheyre three for P100, she adds.Busy ownersAlthough they all have other things that keep them busyBarretto is a freelance photographer, Madrilejos is a magazine editor, Savellano is a chef, and Enriquez is in sales and marketingthey all love being bar owners.We all love meeting people, we treat the customers like friends. We love seeing the crowd dancing and enjoying the bands. We love regulars who keep coming back. We love being fans of the bands we adore. We love photographers and artists who share with us their passion and art. We love it that we learn to deal with the business side of things, says Barretto.As Eric would say: Bahay ninyo to. Its a cozy hole-in the-wall place where you can just kick back, relax, listen to good music, beer in hand and enjoy yummy food. This sounds clich, but its a place where you can be yourself, everyone is friendly, no judgments. Its your home away from home. Its a real good-vibes place. Parang Cheers where everyone knows your name.Visit Route 196 at 196-A Katipunan Ave., Blue Ridge A., QC. Call 4391972 or visit http://coolestbar.multiply.com. The bar is open from 6 p.m.-2 a.m. NOW ACCEPTING RESERVATIONS FOR CHRISTMAS PARTIES and CORPORATE EVENTS.