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It has been 11 years since we closed our doors. You may have known us as New San Jacinto Food Center beside Delta Theater. Some older customers would even mention our original location in T. Pinpin, Binondo where we started 126 years ago. Yes, we’re that old! After surviving wars, a devastating fire, and several other disasters for that long a time, one would think that Panciteria San Jacinto could withstand any challenge. But an unforeseen tragedy that was supposed to bring everyone together instead led to an unfortunate conflict. With that, we had no other choice but to close our restaurant.
San Jacinto meant more than just a livelihood to me. I was engrossed in every aspect of it -- from the backroom, to the kitchen, down to the plates on the table. As a young girl, I enjoyed manning the counter on weekends or washing the dishes when our staff was swamped. Customers usually came in groups so Papa assisted them while managing the hall. Mama was all around too, waiting tables and preparing orders. On less busy days I turned the restaurant front into my playground and the tables into my study desks. Some customers would also stay for a while after dining to have some friendly chat with Isok. San Jacinto became a place of warmth, closeness, and hospitality for everyone. So when we closed our restaurant, we didn’t just lose our business. It felt like we lost our home.
But it wasn’t goodbye. We never really left. Even though we get a lot of “ang tagal niyong nawala” or “hindi namin kayo mahanap,” our closest customers always knew where to find us. For years they kept ordering their favorites straight from our home kitchen. The restaurant may be gone but the memories and bonds have stayed through our food. This helped us keep the San Jacinto tradition alive while we prepared for the next chapter.
We patiently waited for the conflict to be resolved so we could move on. During this time, we had to figure out other ways to pursue our love for making good food. This meant looking and going beyond San Jacinto’s boundaries. We became caterers to different events and concessionaires in both private and government offices. Just last year we opened our stall in Sidcor Sunday Market, serving our San Jacinto menu together with classic Filipino home-cooked dishes. These ventures allowed us to hone our skills, broaden our knowledge, and share our passion to an expanded customer base.
And after years of enduring, the long-standing conflict has been settled. My dream of bringing back San Jacinto can finally begin. I was extremely excited, but also nervous. A lot has changed during our absence -- customer taste, dining habits, technology, etc. Eleven years is long enough for people to forget or move on from our brand, and that’s okay. I know that each journey has its own set of challenges to face.
But before we go on, I would like to take this opportunity to say a few more things.
To those who still use San Jacinto’s name in misleading and self-serving ways, please stop. Do not efface what my parents have gone through by claiming what isn’t yours. Our memories are all that we have, do not take them away from us. You have gained more than enough from the name, and are still gaining from our food that you serve. Please leave it at that, move on, and make your own mark.
To our loyal customers, THANK YOU! We remember you and your favorite orders! We take time to read your messages of nostalgia and how much you missed our food. Your heartwarming words give us motivation to keep going.
To our loyal staff, THANK YOU! You have been with us through ups and downs. Yes, we still have our chief cook and servers! Please know that you are like family to us. We will be forever grateful for your loyalty and service.
To our new customers who just discovered (or rediscovered) us, THANK YOU! We will strive to serve you what previous generations of customers have enjoyed by always staying true to the San Jacinto tradition.
This new journey will be long and challenging. But with the lessons we have learned and the people who have stayed with us, I am certain that we are ready. We set Panciteria San Jacinto aside for a while because we know in our hearts that it will always be with us. And now that we’re about to start again, we’re bringing it back to where it truly belongs -- home.
October 26, 2019
One of Binondo's oldest and finest is returning as we continue the tradition of PANCITERIA SAN JACINTO!
Over a decade ago, the restaurant had to close its doors due to unfortunate circumstances. Although that did not stop us from cooking, having no physical store made it harder for us to be with you.
But even years of absence could not quell the craving for our old recipes, with orders and inquiries continually pouring from our loyal diners. This is a testament to the bonds we have made with generations of San Jacinto customers since 1894. And this is why we want to carry on!
Today, we happily call Sidcor Sunday Market our new home. While we are hoping to find a more permanent location soon, we are beyond delighted to have a place to serve you right now.
We are excited to see everyone who has stayed with us and the new generation of San Jacinto customers! So come visit us and #dinewithtradition here at Panciteria San Jacinto!
If you have ever spent time in the Old Binondo area, most likely you have dined at the famed San Jacinto restaurant and enjoyed its ambience.
Established in 1894, San Jacinto was known for its scrumptious Cantonese dishes but most importantly, it was known as a place where family gathered to celebrate life’s milestones.
Juliet Bato would know for she grew up in the restaurant’s famed walls. In fact, some of her earliest memories was learning how to count money with her dad.
“I would help my dad and was his assistant cashier on weekends. He would teach me how to count money, use cash, and write receipts,” she revealed.
Through the years, I have heard Juliet’s fond memories of the restaurant that is closely tied with her memories of her father. Unfortunately, the doors of San Jacinto closed in 2009 when Juliet’s dad passed away. Since then, Juliet became determined to continue her father’s legacy. Juliet believed that she needed experience elsewhere before she could fully establish herself in the family business.
“I worked in Public Relations and Business Development after college and it taught me a lot about managing businesses. After having worked in the corporate setting for more than five years, I woke up one day and realized that this was the time for me,” she continued.
Juliet was then inspired to become who she always dreamed of being and to hustle for herself and her family the same way her dad did, “I know no one is completely ready but the experiences I have had has made me confident enough to pursue this.”
This is what led Juliet to open Cantina Antigua, a food enterprise that caters to parties and now to individual consumers through a stall in Sidcor Market in Eton Centris in Quezon City every Sunday.
For Juliet, it was a dream that took a while to come true.
“I have been planning to pursue this for the longest time but it wasn’t until I pitched it to my mama Nancy, who takes care of the cooking and keeps the family recipes close to her heart, and my boyfriend Nick that I was inspired to be really serious about pursuing it. My boyfriend really encouraged me to pursue this dream, he pushed me to actually execute it,” she related further.
Staying true to San Jacinto’s tradition of good food, Cantina Antigua continues to serve dishes known to San Jacinto loyalists and new clients as well – with their cold cuts best sellers that include Char Siu which is charcoal-roasted marinated pork, Lechon Macau, Soy and White Chicken, all paired with side dishes and their own special sauce.
Today, Juliet is more than happy to serve old and new foodie fans alike but most importantly, she feels fulfilled because of what Cantina Antigua means to her and her family.
“It’s how I keep my father’s memory alive,” she stressed.
And that is what keeps Juliet going – her desire to serve customers in a way that resonates with them.
“My vision for Cantina Antigua is for the brand to be known by future generations and for it to be relevant to them the same way that San Jacinto was to older generations. We want to be there for every celebration, we want to be included in their life’s important moments,” the San Jacinto Restaurant heiress concluded.
I am pretty sure that Juliet’s papa is definitely smiling on his little girl from heaven, proud of the woman she has become.
Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 13, 2012
Cocoo's Restaurant serves an array of Cantonese specialties, including Camaron Rebusado, Bird's Nest with Quail Egg Soup, Ho To Tai, Sweet Corn Soup and rice toppings varieties. Also available are pork, shrimp, chicken and beef noodle dishes. Owners Nancy Bato and children Romeo, Juliet and Jurome ensure the dishes are reminiscent of the Chinese favorites from Panciteria San Jacinto in Tomas Pinpin area in the early 1900s. Cocoo's is at 383 Quezon Ave., QC. Call tel. 4145916 and 3731971.