Elbert Cuenca, the man behind some of Manila’s best loved restaurants, announced Thursday that he is finally closing his sandwich joint Elbert’s Diner at Rockwell’s Power Plant Mall. “Today, we are sad to say goodbye once again to this mall, which has been nothing but good to us,” the message on the diner’s Facebook page said.
Manila’s specialty sandwich fans will remember the first incarnation of Elbert’s Diner to be Elbert’s Cheesesteak Sandwiches, which relocated to Alabang in 2014. Four years later, the cheesesteak sandwich, along with the rest of the sandwich shop menu made a big return to Power Plant, only this time on the second floor of its new wing. From being rechristened Elbert’s Sandwich Shop, it eventually changed its name to Elbert’s Diner.
“It’s a permanent closure of this particular dining space,” Cuenca tells ANCX, although he adds the brand will remain alive online. Apart from its cheesesteak sandwich, the joint is also famous for its hotdog sandwiches, burgers, and specialty sandwiches like the Swiss Burger and the Truffle Mushroom Melt. The executive chef of Elbert’s Diner is Elbert’s brother Adrian Cuenca.
The past months have been particularly difficult for the business. “Despite the generous concessions given by the mall, the restaurant has been losing money,” admits Cuenca when asked what made him decide to close shop. “We kept hoping that the foot traffic would pick up, but it never did.” The decision to close came after reviewing the holiday sales which, according to him, took a clear dive compared to the months before September, the start of the Philippine holiday season.
Cuenca will be letting go of people from the diner but not a lot as some will be assigned to his other operations. “Also, most of our staff were never able to return to work after ECQ was lifted, due to difficulties commuting, so there was already an attrition during the community quarantine periods,” says the restaurateur. Cuenca still runs Metronome, Elbert’s Pizzeria, Elbert’s Steak Room, Elbert's Upstairs Bar and a delivery service called Elbert’s Delivers.
Elbert's Diner's last day of operations is this Sunday, January 31st. The sandwiches, however, can still be ordered via Elbert’s Delivers. ”We are hopeful that we will be back some day,” said the goodbye message on the Elbert’s Diner Facebook page. “We are proud of our sandwiches and will do our best to find them a home again.”
[Banner image from the Elbert's Diner Facebook page.]