|But for Blu-Gre owner Gatchi Gatchalian, his cafe is more than just a business, it is a passion. Much of the cafe’s offerings caters to Davaoeños, mainly coffee flavored with durian — the smelly and pulpy fruit local residents are proud of.”We wanted to offer something Davaoeños can relate with,” said Mr. Gatchalian. Durian, which typifies Davao, is just the perfect answer. With the culinary genius of Mr. Gatchalian’s wife Larcy, Blu-Gre Café showcases uniqueness and novelty that surely keeps one coming back.
Before venturing into a coffee shop specializing in durian coffee, Mr. Gatchalian worked for a multinational manufacturing firm, a job that allowed him to travel all over the country.
But his entrepreneurial instinct always kept him itching to put up his own business.
With his wife, he first ventured into retailing clothes in Metro Manila. When assigned to Cagayan de Oro in 1992, the couple opened their first clothing line. It was soon followed by their second apparel shop called ’Gre’ in Davao and Cebu City.
Mr. Gatchalian saw the potential of Davao in 1992, during the peak of the EAGA or East ASEAN Growth Area. The more he visited Davao, the more he fell in love with it.
“There were so many things going on in Davao that attracted me and made me decide to settle here,” said Mr. Gatchalian. He and his wife launched a durian-inspired, homegrown clothing line called ’Durian Republic,’ taking off from the world-famous brand ’Banana Republic.’
Durian Republic started the durian phenomenon in the city. In 1998, the couple launched the durian-inspired Blu-Gre, a spin-off from their Gre clothing store. Blu-Gre Café was also the first client of Mr. Gatchalian’s marketing-advertising firm which offers corporate identity packages.
“With the strong competition in the marketing world, one has to be known for something. Be creative, be unique. This is one way of separating or making yourself different from the rest,” he said. “Keep on coming up with new things because people love something new always,” he added.
The café is this city’s first specialty coffee shop that showcases the very taste of Davao. “We wanted to be known as a local coffee shop and the only way Davaoeños can own and love Blu-Gre is our offering of durian coffee,” Mr. Gatchalian said. One thing that also inspired them to pursue this business, he said, is their love for coffee and dessert.
Of course, the business requires a lot of effort and a bunch of creativity. The couple was just a perfect team: Gatchi is always on the go and Larcy is a creative cook. Gatchi takes charge of concocting coffee while Larcy takes care of the cakes.
In Blu-Gre, one can also immerse in deep thoughts while having espresso, latte, mocha, and cappuccino with a slice of mouthwatering cake. But do not miss taking a sip of the Gatchpuccino Royale and Larce-puccino durian coffee, a homegrown concoction named after the brains behind the business.
“I think that’s a very good combination, this durian and coffee. This is what we [are proud of] here,” he said. “We make what you see here and you won’t find them in other coffee shops,” he added.
Concocted from a mixture of whipped cream, local coffee, milk, and durian puree, Gatchpuccino Royale is perfectly rich. Try the delicious Larcepuccino cold durian coffee topped with chocolate or crushed Oreos. With each sip, the coffee becomes more and more delicious! The coffee and cake prices are also reasonable at P60 to P110.
Entrepreneurs always look for some fresh new ways to boost revenues. For Gatchi, the best way to boost profits is to optimize the relationship with customers and clients. “We are always in touch with our customers. We get their e-mails and update them of what is new,” he said.