Did you know that in Bacolod there’s a café that goes by the name Coffin Break Bistro? It already sounds like a crazy idea but there’s more: it has actual caskets inside. Caskets that have been turned into tables and chairs. We hear the seats are quite comfy, too.
“Why Coffin Break?” we asked the owner, 27-year-old Brylle Sy. He says their family has been running a funeral business called Zeia Funeral Homes in Bago City, Negros Occidental, for nine years now. They wanted to cater to clients from Bacolod so they thought of opening a booking office in the City of Smiles.
Back in March 2020, during the start of the pandemic, they found out a space was available right across Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital. It was the perfect spot, they thought, being in close proximity to a hospital. The owner of the building agreed to lease them the property but on one condition—Brylle should get the rest of the vacant spaces.
Since the Sys only needed a small room for the funeral office, Brylle thought, ‘Why not open a café and just occupy the rest of the space?’ The guy is a Hospitality Management graduate and likes to check out different cafés whenever he’s out for a motorbike ride. He found out that the dining spots around the area are mostly carinderias. So he got sold on the coffee shop idea right away.
“May mga families na walang mapuntahan habang nasa emergency room ang pasyente nila. Minsan naman, nag-aantay sila ng death certificate from the hospital. So okey talaga ang café as a tambayan spot,” says Brylle.
The coffee shops he’d been to have an almost uniform look so Brylle wanted his cafe to break from that mold. He also wanted to be practical about it. “Mahal din if bibili ako ng mga upuan at lamesa,” he explains. “Since gumagawa kami ng kabaong, naisip ko, why not yung kabaong na lang ang gawin kong upuan at table? Yung mga retaso, sobrang kahoy, gagawin ko ding table at upuan. Tapos lalagyan ko na din mismo ng funeral lights para kumpleto.”
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Brylle sounds quite serious while telling us all these. He says he’s notorious for his wild sense of humor but with Coffin Break Bistro, he means serious business. “Nung una, ayaw ng parents ko na lagyan ng kabaong ang bistro. Sabi ko, hayaan nyo ako sa gusto kong mangyari,” he recalls.
The concept killed—pardon the pun. The bistro has been around for one year and two months and is doing good business. In fact, Brylle has opened a branch in Bago City and will open a third in the town of Pulupandan.
Coffin Break Bistro offers different coffee drinks and milk tea at affordable prices—from P50 to P60. It serves food items such as grilled cheese sandwich, chickens wings, siomai, and pancit palabok. It can seat up to 50 people and has an al fresco area—just in case a diner doesn’t feel like being around a coffin or has feretrophobia. “Convenient ang area,” says Brylle. “Makakapag-charge sila [ng phone]. May WiFi din.” What else can one ask for in this life?
Photos courtesy of Brylle Sy