HAVE you imagined yourself enjoying your favorite food amid the lush mangrove plantation?

It is possible when you visit the Mangrove Restaurant in Barangay Old Sagay, Sagay City, Negros Occidental.

What started as a passion to share his skills in cooking and innovative menus, Junine Vistar’s restaurant served more than its purpose, as it helped create job opportunities for the residents of Purok Santan 2 where it is located.

Vistar said it also helps people to be aware of the importance of protecting and conserving mangroves since it plays a vital role in marine ecology.

The restaurant has been there since 2017 but was only opened to the public in June 2021 right after the restrictions brought by the ongoing coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic started to ease, he said.

Vistar added that what makes the restaurant unique from the others is that their guests’ dining experience is within the lush mangrove plantation, its delectable homegrown cuisine, and the love of the local community, making you feel “a home away from home.”

“We are also offering overnight stay for tourists to stay longer at restaurants sleeping under cottages within the Mangrove Forest overlooking the sea,” the restaurant owner noted.

More than just the food that they offer, guests can also buy Sagay-made products and others that promote health and nutrition such as vegetable pasta and others to help local producer’s products and farmers to sustain their existing business amid the pandemic.

“We are planning to expand its operation to make it a resort in order to cater more tourists and to create more jobs to the nearby communities,” Vistar shared.

From the highly urbanized city of Bacolod, it would take an hour and a half bus trip to reach the Mangrove Restaurant, which is now becoming a venue for photoshoots and vlogs.