Noey Tantoco Lopez, president of Rustan Coffee Corporation (RCC), the exclusive licensee of Starbucks in the country, couldn’t help but feel sentimental when he delivered his opening remarks at the launch of Starbucks Reserve Hiraya in Tagaytay City Wednesday.
The event marked a special milestone in the Lopezes’ life as the store launch coincided with the 56th wedding anniversary of his parents, Jun and Menchu Lopez. In attendance that day were family and close friends of the Lopezes, and long-time employees of the company.
Hiraya, the outlet they just opened, is the biggest Starbucks in the country and the first Starbucks Reserve in Tagaytay. The building sits on a 4,500 sqm property. It can seat around 250 (indoor and al fresco) and has 63 parking spaces. Hiraya stands on the same spot where the first Starbucks in Tagaytay was built 20 years ago.
“There was a karaoke bar down there, a Pancake House here, a carinderia there,” Noey says, smiling. “We were all sharing the space.” Then last year, during the pandemic, the company got the opportunity to lease the entire space.
“Why don’t we take it for ourselves and build something we can all be proud of?” Noey remembers his brother, Quito, saying. Thus was born the idea to build the biggest Starbucks Reserve store in Tagaytay.
“Hiraya means imagination,” Noey says in his speech. “Hiraya also means the fruits of one's hopes, dreams and aspirations. So it’s very appropriate that we’re building this beautiful store after 25 years. (They opened the first Starbucks in the Philippines 25 years ago.) We’re celebrating it on the day of my parents’ anniversary.”
Every Starbucks store is unique but what makes Hiraya a cut above the rest is the breathtaking view of scenic Taal framed by the elegant earth tones of the store’s interior. It’s actually the first thing that will grab you as you enter the store. Starbucks Reserve Hiraya also showcases local artistry through its woven panels and materials, creating a warm, welcoming ambiance for customers.
The vibrantly colored and intricately woven masterpiece of contemporary artist Aze Ong displayed on a wall is a striking conversation piece. “It’s an artistic representation of the brand’s mission globally, which is human connection,” offers Jamie Silva, the company’s Senior Manager for Marketing, Digital Customer Experience & Loyalty.
Starbucks Reserve Hiraya is a store of many firsts, says Quito Lopez, Rustan Coffee’s store development planning manager. It's the first Starbucks store in the country to have the Oviso espresso machine. Because of the place’s open-bar concept, the fully automated machine allows their “coffee masters” to have an enhanced connection with customers who get to enjoy seeing their coffee made.
Hiraya is also the first Starbucks store in the Philippines to offer oven-fresh pastries baked on-site. It has an indulgent selection of tarts and croissants and the branch’s signature Hiraya Latte, exclusively available only in this branch.
RCC is expected to continue making milestones in the coming days. “This is really connected to our vision which is limitless possibilities,” says Noey. “And I think it’s just the beginning. We just set the bar high.”
Starbucks Reserve Hiraya is open from 7am to 1am (Mondays to Thursdays); 6am to 2am (Fridays to Sundays).