Anyone who has ever dined at any Mary Grace Café will attest that everything about the place reminds you of the comforts of home – from the comfy interiors, to the flavorful dishes that remind you of Lola’s home-cooked meals. The secrets are in the restaurant’s memoirs of the mother behind the cafe.
Unknown to many, restaurant owner Mary Grace Dimacali started this business when she was already 44 years old. Although the idea was already planted in her early 30s when she would experiment with different recipes in her own kitchen, the plan of selling to the public outside of the home had to be put on hold when she got pregnant with her first baby.
She knew her priorities early on. Her passion for cooking and baking would have to wait. Her focus was on the family. “I had to lay down the foundation first – my family – before I even open at least a kiosk. Today, my kids are the pillars of the business. Everything would not have materialized were it not for my family’s support,” Mary Grace said.
The first Mary Grace kiosk was put up when her kids were already in college. She was already 50 when one of her kids decided to help her out after graduation.
She still marvels at the fact that the name is serendipitous. While it is eponymously named, the two names that comprise it has separate representations. A devotee of Our Lady of Fatima, the name “Mary” holds a very special spot in Mary Grace’s heart. On the other hand, the first letters in each of her five children’s names form the name “Grace”: Gabriel, Raphael, Adrian, Chiara, and (Marian) Ernestine. Four of them are currently involved in the business operations, while the eldest Chiara is expected to join them once she returns from London.
Today, Mary Grace kiosks and restaurants can be seen in major malls around Metro Manila. Her branches are favorite go-to dining places for office people during weekdays, and families on weekends. Her SM branches are especially strong especially during big events and Sunday masses. “The daily foot traffic and locations of SM malls are important considerations for me whenever I put up branches. It attracts a good mix of customers – families, friends, and working people – who are also my target customers,” Mary Grace said.
Now a grandmother to seven children, Mary Grace admits she could not have gone through the success that her brand is receiving without the ingredients that God has placed in her life. “My personal symbol for this is the triangle: family, business, community. I keep these three balanced through fervent prayers, and a lot of support from friends,” she reveals. “On the business side, our purpose is to give hope to people who seek employment, as well as to represent the country through a quality brand of products and service that is truly Filipino.”
Asked what she would give as advice to mothers who also want to go into business while looking after their family, Mary Grace has this to say: “Handle being a mom first, and everything will fall into place in God’s time. Only then can you handle every kind of challenge that go your way, using all your God-given talents.”
Mary Grace Cafes and Kiosks are located in select SM malls in Metro Manila, and is one of over 5,000 partners of SM Supermalls who offer family fun and extraordinary mall-going experiences for all.
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