Rustan’s Supermarket traditions, memories
THE OPENING of Rustan’s Department Store and Supermarket in Cebu City along Mango Avenue in 1985 introduced sophistication in the shopping lifestyle of Cebuanos.
Rustan’s, after all, is the country’s most prestigious retailer established by husband and wife Bienvenido and Gliceria Tantoco in 1951. The supermarket was founded in 1970 and defined the very concept of modern food retailing in the Philippines. The name Rustan’s comes from the family names of Gliceria Rustia and Bienvenido Tantoco.
Merienda in The Yum Yum Tree in the newly renovated Rustan’s Supermarket in Banawa a few weeks ago with Jaja Chiongbian-Rama and Selina Selma Romualdez stirred memories of the coffee shop back in the mid-80s. Since Rustan’s was then located beside St. Theresa’s College where my daughters Patricia and Stephanie studied, The Yum Yum Tree, which was prominently situated at the entrance of the supermarket, became a favorite hangout. Both Patricia and Stephanie were models of the Young VIP Club of Rustan’s so occasional free time after school was spent practicing for the department store’s fashion shows. They were given gift certificates in return, which they used with girlish excitement in the department store and enjoyed the treats at The Yum Yum Tree.
The Yum Yum Tree is bursting with culinary offers and continues the tradition of comfort food many of us enjoyed then. Selina informed us that Chef Beth Romualdez who sits as VP for Food Services creates the culinary offerings in addition to the old time favorites in The Yum Yum Tree, as well as Shopwise’s Soda Fountain and Mongolian Barbecue Counter, Benny’s Café in Rustan’s Manila, and the never-ending international culinary journey of the supermarkets all under the umbrella of Rustan’s Supercenters, Inc. The Yum Yum Tree continues to operate in Rustan’s Banawa only. Benny’s Café has taken over the in-house coffee shop that has been loved for many years by Rustan’s shoppers.
For our merienda, Jaja ordered the classics like Pancit Palabok, Spaghetti and Club Sandwich, each bite of which brought me back to the “old” Rustan’s. New in the menu and quite a novelty is Pinakbet Rice with Bagnet. The Pinakbet was cooked just the way my Ilocano mother does it—with the strong flavor of the “bagoong.” The “bagnet” or Ilocano “lechon kawali” was sinfully delicious—crispy pork skin on a layer of fat and meat. Our merienda turned out to be an early dinner.
With satisfied palates, we did a walk-through of the impressive and spacious supermarket. There was an on-going promotion of Spanish products dubbed “Corazon de Espana.” Affordable imported Asian brands as well as American, European, Mediterranean are eye catching. Exclusively distributed by Rustan’s is French Casino line of food products that include wines, juices, pastas, cookies, pastries, chocolates, spices, dressing, more canned and bottled products. Its own private label, SureBuy, promotes affordable quality products. The much-celebrated Fresh Section offers the freshest and finest local and imported produce from fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish and seafood. Name it and Rustan’s will most likely have it.
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