IT WAS the black, French-like cafe appearance that caught my attention. However, the catalyst that fully convinced me to visit the establishment was the rumors of how good their churros are.
Mai Crafts Boutique Cafe is not only a place where you can enjoy a cup of coffee with a slice of cake or its famous churros con tsokolate; it is also a craft store that sells home decor stuff and gift items such as imported tea cups and saucers, dinnerware, knick knacks, clothes, bags, paintings, and among others.
The combination of a boutique shop and cafe is what made this establishment quite unique from others.
Located along Don A. Velez Street (across Eastwest bank), Mai Crafts Boutique Cafe has been the “home of churros” in Cagayan de Oro City as it was the first establishment to ever serve churros in the city.
“I think kami ra ang ga-serve sa Cagayan. Kami lugar ang first nga nag-serve og churros diri. Then recipe ma na sya sa akong mom so daghan man sad ganahan sa among churros (I think we're the only one that serves churros in Cagayan de Oro. We are the first to serve churros in the city. My mom created the recipe and people find our churros good),” Mai Malferrari Ballesteros, the owner of Mau Crafts Boutique Cafe, said.
According to Ballesteros, Mai Crafts was established back in 1995 as a small arts and craft shop when she as in her 20s.
“Before, ga handicrafts ko, kanang crafty lang, hilig na ko'g crafts then naka decide ko nga mag open og small shop (I do handicrafts, I'm inclined to do crafts then I decide to open a small shop),” Ballesteros said.
She added that it was her mother who encouraged her to open the shop in a space of a building owned by her parents.
“Ang akong mom ang nag encourage sa ako nga mag business ko kay naa man mi space. So ingon sya, 'Pag-business nalang, pag open na la'g small shop.' So small pa man kaayo ang akong shop. And then pila ka years later, nag expand gamay (It was my mom who encouraged me to start a business since there's an available space. She said, 'Start a business, open a small shop.' So my shop was still small and years later, it expanded a bit),” Ballesteros said.
It was few years after that when they decided to serve churros as merienda. And in 2015, Ballesteros said they incorporated cafe into the business and thus, the craft boutique cafe of the place.
“Before we used to serve our specialty churros and then nag serve na lang dayun mi og lain nga food (we started serving other foods),” Ballesteros said.
Apart from their well-known churros, Mai Crafts Boutique Cafe also serves coffee, made from local coffee beans, and tea imported from Europe. However, their specialty drink is the cafe tablea, a pure chocolate drink with coffee and milk (shot of espresso and a shot of tablea drink, according to Ballesteros).
They also serve their specialty cake: tablea cake, a cake made from tablea and coffee.
“Ang among food, everything is homemade. Even our sandwiches are homemade. Homemade siya tanan. Among recipes ang tanan (Everything is homemade. The recipes are ours), even the bread. Ang sa sandwiches sa amo tanan, pati ang bread kami gahimo sa bread sa sandwiches (We also made the bread used in sandwiches),” Mai said.
What made this business last for how many years, 23 years and counting, is because of Mai's passion for her work, she said.
“Actually, murag man gud sad nako ni sya'g hobby and passion sad gyud nako. Naa gyud ko sa art side, bale ga-appreciate gyud ko'g art (It’s my hobby and passion. I’m inclined to art, I appreciate art). It’s my passion so mao siguro ang nakadugay sa akong business (perhaps it’s the reason why my business lasts long),” the Mai Crafts Boutique Cafe owner said.
“Actually, dili sya kapoy kung imo gyud syang passion. Mao gyud akong love (it’s not tiring if it’s really your passion. It’s what I love),” Mai added.
Mai also mentioned that she's planning to open a much bigger boutique cafe in another location, one that sells not only home decors but also home furniture, three to four years from now.