Dining at the Olive Café
Across the Ibaloi Heritage Garden and stone’s throw away from the Children’s Playground and the Baguio Orchidarium is the Olive Café and Restaurant of the Venus Parkview Hotel. It’s a happy refuge for hungry stomachs promenading at Burnham Park. And a haven for those seeking to spend one or two nights in our cold Baguio. Its location at the central business district and near the park is a blessing. It’s also a good 10-minute walk to Session Road which can be heart pumping and a good way to exercise.
Owned and managed by the Villanueva’s, its current president and chief executive officer is Charito Villanueva-Barter who took over from Rolando “Oyan” Villanueva. They come from a brood of seven. “My parents bought this place in 1977,” says Charito.
Her parents, Teofilo and Genovive Villanueva, were old time members of the Baguio Hotels and Inns Association (BAHAI). Bernadette Cantos is chief operations officer whose expertise in hotel and corporate management has brought in the “new team” and “team work” par excellence.
Olive Café sits seventy people and is open from 6 a.m. to 11p.m. It is complemented by the main dining area, which can accommodate about 300 people. It offers all day buffet meals and breakfast platters. It’s a favorite of joggers and celebrants. Some suggested new house specials for those trying to satisfy their gourmet appetites like prime rib, Hungarian grilled sausage, and rolled pizza.
Pizza roll is a “must” try pizza at the cafe. It has soft thin crust garnished with alfalfa and arugula, also known as “rocket” or “roquette.” It is a fast-growing, cool-season salad green that adds a tangy, mustard-like flavor to salads.
“Our Pinoy family meals are affordable and the favorite of old timers and loyal customers who visit us every now and then,” says Food and Beverage Manager Jovielyn Bauzon, who used to be a social worker but has turned her passion into food.
”Tatay taught our oldest Chef Roberto his secret recipes and ingredients. We are happy that we have successfully changed the Olive Café Menu and Banquet to the satisfaction of our guests. Like we now have steaks to delight our foreign visitors and fusion menu. We continuously validate our plating. We look into our menu preparation very closely,” she explained, adding “the arrangement and overall styling of food upon bringing it to the plate is called plating.”
Venus Parkview Hotel Resident Manager Hyaline Aquino has put to good use her skill in selling and her degree in Psychology in terms of understanding people more and handling their complaints. “We have 120 employees, mostly direct hires. We are pleased to say that we work happily together as a team. Team work includes our marketing officers who enhance our collateral materials and the kitchen staff. As a team, it is important to volunteer and help each one. Service is good when there are no complaints,” says this bubbly lady from Cebu. “We also regularly update the training of our personnel.”
Geraldine Geraldez, guest service manager, is a commerce graduate with a management major. This front office boss handles 123 rentable rooms. She manages and packages them quite well. The hotel also has five function rooms which can accommodate from 40 to 1,000 people. I asked her what makes her job and hotel experience memorable, “Good feedback, reviews and comments from guests makes us happy. Good reviews in the Trip Advisor for instance, motivates us to do better.”
The tourism industry always strives to give the ‘best service.” It’s a measure of international standards. I admire the “team work” that has emanated from this group brought about by good leadership and good management. I have witnessed how management made their personnel happy and satisfied during their Christmas celebration. It definitely shows how they treat their customers as well. A happy heart produces good vibes and output. Food becomes tastier when service is good and when given with a smile. I understand, the hotel also offers milestone happenings during the holidays, Valentine’s Day, Father’s and Mother’s Day, Chinese New Year, Halloween, and other occasions.