By Patricia B. Mirasol

“Each pandesal, every cake that we bake is an act of resistance against the bigger epidemic of fear and grief, because breads and cakes symbolize simple happiness and indomitable hope,” said Kamuning Bakery Cafe owner Wilson Lee Flores to his staff, bakers, and cooks, as he assured them that they were going to keep their jobs.

Because of the favorable number of orders it has been getting this lockdown from various cities, the Quezon City-based bakery is searching for a space in the southern part of the metro (Parañaque or Alabang were mentioned) to open a branch with a baking area and a commissary.  

The 81-year-old establishment has experienced “explosive” growth in daily sales since the first lockdown in Metro Manila was imposed on March 15, said Mr. Flores, who had to ask his staff to work almost non-stop 24/7 in three shifts during the first few weeks of the lockdown. This coincided with the time shopping malls were closed and industrial bakeries were crippled due to gaps in their supply chain. He attributed the success of Kamuning Bakery to generations of loyal customers; affordable price points; and a strategic location that has seen the opening of two groceries since the pandemic began. 

To keep the bakery’s oven running, staff members scrambled and looked for alternative suppliers, including a replacement for their usual source of eggs. The bakery upped its social media presence and started selling its goods online. It also began accepting digital payments via online banking.

Image by Inday Espina Varona

Mr. Flores provided living quarters for most of the bakery’s staff, bakers, and cooks. Meanwhile, customers who had a hard time getting past checkpoints, could have their baked goods delivered through same-day courier services—an option that wasn’t offered prior to the lockdown.  

Even before public health protocols were mandated for small businesses, Mr. Flores had already bought infrared thermal scanners, implemented the use of face masks, offered free disinfecting alcohol on site, and strictly upheld social distancing. He added that a medical-grade Luftonic air purifier was also installed at the store.

A look at the menu shows that more than a dozen items—including slow-cooked roasted chicken and pancit—have been introduced these past few months. “We should try to offer more variety of products, better quality, and good service in order to hopefully delight our customers,” said Mr. Flores. “We are actually baking happiness… I hope we can offer new jobs to others and even try to open at least one or two new branches during this crisis.”