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Cafe Mary Grace: Where You Can Experience The Comfort Of Mother’s Cooking

During a pandemic, food becomes a great source of comfort, as showcased in American Express Shop Small Campaign

In times of crisis, a mother’s soothing words does wonders to lift the spirits. And when an ongoing pandemic prohibits family gatherings and longed-for get-togethers, food becomes the second-best greatest source of comfort.

Mary Grace—known for its sweet home-baked goods and which has become synonymous with "home" and “mother’s cooking”—is happy to come in and fulfill this great need.


Chiara Dimacali-Hugo—the head of marketing and one of the daughters of Mary Grace Dimacali, owner and founder of the renowned chain—reflects on her own mother’s inspiring words, which have helped guide her and the business through this challenging time.

“My mom always reminded us five siblings to see the brighter side of things. With every tragedy, there’s always something good that comes out of it; you just have to seek harder,” she says. And that’s what Mary Grace did; it became a source of good and positivity.

Pre-pandemic, the company’s expansion was what could be described as “aggressive,” with numerous openings for cafes in the pipeline. But due to the ongoing crisis, the company had to rethink its approach, pause and re-evaluate their strategy. To date, they have 38 kiosks and 44 cafes across the metro.


For now, they’ve decided to revisit their store pipeline and reassess the best timing for each location, hoping that the economy gets back into shape and things open up little by little. But they’re also moving forward and making the most of the situation by opening more kiosks and store curbside pick- ups, which align with the new shopping habits of people who prefer grab-and-go food.

With the lifting of ECQs and the like, dining out is also slowly being allowed and Café Mary Grace is welcoming back its patrons with certain branches offering additional al fresco dining to accommodate guests who prefer to dine outdoors.

The crisis brought about by the pandemic also opened up new opportunities for Mary Grace. They went into full e-commerce and also partnered with various delivery providers to better cater to their customers at home. They’re also strengthening their digital presence and exploring new ways to reach their customers beyond their physical stores—in other words, meeting people where they are whether it be on the go, on their mobile devices, or “locked down” at home.

“With delivery, the experience might be different, but the taste and flavors are the same,” smiles Chiara. Now, you can enjoy your favorite Café Mary Grace ensaymada, luscious cheese rolls, decadent hot chocolate, classic cakes, and other homey, comfort-food dishes again just by ordering online.


Along with reevaluating their business model to sustain revenue, the company also had to revisit how they take care of their people. “With so many kiosks and cafes, our employees were really relying on us; and so, of course, we wanted to be responsible and explore all the different ways to stay in business.” Laying off people and closing branches was something they didn’t want to do.

To bounce back, Café Mary Grace made adjustments to operations and launched initiatives within the company to ensure that their employees felt safe and secure even while working with them. To stay in touch and boost morale, management launched zoomustahan – a regular online kamustahan with their people – and an internal campaign, which recognized their most dutiful workers.

“During this pandemic, we’ve learned so much and we’re still learning. And what has been successful for us in staying afloat is just becoming more flexible and adaptable as a team. We’ve learned to roll with the punches,” smiles Chiara.

“In business, the tendency is to seek control, to have a long-term plan, and to do what the numbers dictate. But you also need the perspective of openness. You need to be open to the timing of things and learn to wait for things to unfold.” And it is this positive mindset that has allowed the company to successfully navigate this crisis.


But beyond just keen business focus and strategy, what has kept the company such a solid force is also gratitude, reveals Chiara. “Gratitude is what we strive to focus our sights on every day. We’re grateful that we’re afloat, that we can continue to provide jobs, and that people can still buy our products and that we still have loyal customers. Hinahanap pa kami. And it’s a wonderful feeling to have things to be grateful for at this time.”

Like many other business owners, Chiara encourages patrons to shop and support local, homegrown businesses like theirs.

American Express Card members can make a difference by using their BDO-issued American Express Cards to pay for purchases from participating Shop Small merchants and earn 5X Rewards until August 31, 2021.

With over 1,000 merchant locations, ranging from retail shops, restaurants, and specialty stores, reward points earned can be used to redeem a reward of choice from a selection of gift certificates, gadgets, appliance, air miles, and more.

Remember to shop at your favorite local businesses.

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