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The Beautiful Elbert’s Upstairs Bar Is Closing Soon

Plus Elbert unveils his exciting new concept

In the profusion of bars and speakeasies that dot BGC, Elbert’s Upstairs Bar stood out as an oasis of lush comfort and restrained stylishness. It’s the kind of place where one can sink into an über-comfortable tufted sofa with a Vesper martini and quietly sip away the tensions of the day. Knowing that it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. 

So it was with a bit of a shock that we heard it will be closing. Or rather, it’s going through a sunset stage, posted owner Elbert Cuenca. “As with all great things, this has to come to an end at some point. So come on over soon and enjoy it for one more time at least.

“I’m not sure exactly when the curtains will come down on it, but it'll be soon-- maybe in a week, maybe in a month, maybe in a year. I really don't know. I can't make any promises.”

Perched above popular Mendokoro Ramen (hence its moniker), Elbert’s Upstairs Bar is part of a series of restaurants owned Cuenca that all bear his name, including: Elbert’s Steak Room, Elbert’s Sandwich Bar, and Elbert’s Pizzeria. “This is me, inviting you to come to my place. I’m assuring you, as Elbert, that it’s going to be the same quality as what I’ve always been doing,” he told ANCX in 2018. 

But four years and a pandemic can wreak many changes—and lessons. “To me, one significant learning was the idea of simplification,” explains Elbert. “I recall the sleepless nights during the first few months of lockdown, thinking how much easier my life would’ve been if I had less things to worry about in my life.” 

At the time, he had five establishments: Metronome, Elbert’s Pizzeria, Elbert’s Diner, Elbert’s Upstairs Bar and Elbert’s Steak Room. “It would’ve been 10 if I had not sold my shares in the ramen business in late 2018. Phew!”

When the first lockdown started, Elbert’s Upstairs Bar went into hibernation. Being purely a bar, it didn’t qualify as a restaurant and so could not be reopened during the lifting of lockdowns. The bar remained closed between March 2020 to June 2022, or a period of 26 months. 

By the time the economy had reopened, Cuenca had already closed down Elbert’s Diner in Power Plant Mall, and was seriously considering closing both Elbert’s Pizzeria and Elbert’s Upstairs Bar. “Simplification. I knew I’d be more than content with having just Metronome and Elbert’s Steak Room to take care of.”

However, he admits: “A part of me strongly believes that my previous concepts deserved a second chance. And that’s exactly what I’m working on right now.”

Elbert’s Pizzeria is now closed as it is currently going through a major renovation and expansion (it took over the the neighboring space). It will soon be relaunched as a new full-service dining concept called Elbert’s Collective, a consolidation of his recently closed concepts, Upstairs Bar included. It’ll have pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, diner food and wine and cocktails.

At this same time, the main dining area of Elbert’s Steak Room is being renovated and expanded, although we have a makeshift dining area in our second floor private room.

It’s a relief to know that Elbert’s Upstairs Bar will be back, albeit not in exactly the same form as it is now. It is such a beautiful space, I say. “Yes, I agree.” says Elbert. “It’s a beautiful space. That’s why I was both hesitant to close it but at the same time eager to salvage parts of it. 

“It was very personal to me. It’s exactly the kind of space I had long been wanting. Relaxed, elegant, quiet and discreet. It was really an extension of my personality, especially when it comes to drinking.”

But Cuenca is never a man without a plan. Already we’re excited to see the unveiling  of Elbert’s Collective, and how he consolidates his many concepts into one. Already, we know it will be stylish, beautiful with superb food and drinks. Just you wait.