Iconic Bacolod Restaurant
Bob’s Restaurant is a by-word among Negrenses–not just Bacolodnons. It is an iconic Bacolod restaurant that has withstood the test of time, global economic crises, political shifts, technological advancements, and cultural changes. And today, they turn 50. Yes, 50 years of serving good food to the genteel people of Bacolod and all her guests.
From Ms. Luci Lizares-Yunque, columnist of Sunstar Bacolod, I quote her recollection of the beginnings of Bob’s, published June 4, 2015.
The dream of owning and operating their own eatery had its roots when Dr. Homero Sicangco, and his wife, Titang Varela, were in the States in the late ‘50s where the young doctor was studying and training for his specialty in pediatrics.
The luxury then of the struggling couple was to have the succulent hamburger offered by Bob’s Big Boy Drive Inn, which at the time was an exorbitant 65 cents as compared to McDonald’s at 15 cents.
When the couple came home in 1960, Dr. Sicangco went about with his practice but the dream did not escape them. Five years after, on June 6, 1965, the first drive-in restaurant (not to be confused with the drive-thru concept today) was inaugurated in North Drive across the Riverside Hospital, the only two establishments in the area then. The area was swampy and was a watering hole of carabaos.
The notion of a drive-in resto was so novel then that it was an instant hit. Imagine parking your Beetle, GTO, Corvette, Impalas and waiters coming around for your orders and take note, serve them in trays clipped in half-opened windows. Wow! So totally cool!
For the teeny boppers like moi at the time, it was a thrill to see our crushes parked up close and get the ‘kilig’ of our lives. The watering hole of carabaos turned into the watering hole of teenagers and people of all ages and families.
Tito Romy was no drinking man so from the onset, the rule of thumb was no alcohol is to be served. A policy that made families secure that meals are enjoyed with no disturbance from drunks and that their children especially the girls and the ladies will not be bothered or annoyed by someone spirited in liquor. This policy is enforced to this day and this ambiance of security is another welcoming magnet.
Throwback opening day circa 1965, seven waiters and the yaya of Cynthia, the eldest child of the Sicangcos, Alice Genovia, completed the roster of staff. The response to this new concept of a diner was so overwhelming that the good doctor now doubled as a busboy carrying sodas while greeting the clients and the ever charming Tita Titang would escape to the kitchen and see how orders were manage at the swiftest time possible.
I think that the success of Bob’s spanning five decades is part to its boldness to innovate. Their father, Dr. Sicangco, despite being a pediatrician by profession, was not afraid to bring in something new to the dining public of Bacolod. Fast forward many years later, his children carried on the same aggressiveness by becoming relevant to the growing population and changing tastes of Bacolod. I distinctly remember that when I was in college, the Bob’s Restaurant in front of the University of St. La Salle (now known as University Courtyard) was the IN restaurant to dine among the students, parents, and of course, the faculty and staff of the school. Now, it has transformed itself to being a commercial district that celebrates modern art.
When the cafe craze hit Bacolod, we found Bob’s Cafe standing proud at 21st-Lacson St., serving their own fraps, hot coffees, and desserts. When Bacolodnons craved specialty cakes, Bob’s answered with their Bob’s Pastry Shop, serving cakes, desserts, pastries, muffins, and even breads. When malls opened in Bacolod, you would be sure to find a Bob’s Restaurant in a strategic location in the mall. At present, there is a Bob’s at SM City Bacolod, Robinsons Place, The District Ayala North Point, Lopue’s East Centre, and even Gaisano City. They are so popular that for me, they no longer need advertising. People talk about them and share their photos on social media! Yes, even after 50 years, it’s still IN to dine at Bob’s!
As always, you can enjoy their specialties like baby back ribs, sate babe, chicken sate, salads, fruit punch, lasagna, and many more! And of course, a crowd-drawer at at the Bob’s Restaurant at its original location across Riverside Hospital is their eat all you can Mongolian bar.
I am not sure who owns what among the children of Dr. Sicangco and I am just writing about my observations about Bob’s Restaurant. I am not even sure which of the branches came first. But one thing is for sure, I am writing about them because after all these years, they deserve a space on my blog.
Congratulations, Bob’s Restaurant! Happy golden anniversary!