This cafe is the brainchild of Nariese Giangan.
This cafe serves good food and drinks. No doubt about it. But since its opening, it has become more than that. It has also become a home for people who need to find somewhere to belong.
The birth of Food For the Gays Cafe
Food For the Gays Cafe began as a small online business, like others that were born at the height of the pandemic. Nariese decided to sell pastries to earn some extra cash. She also wanted to start a business and have it recognized as a queer-owned establishment.
The cafe’s name is a play on words. It comes from the popular pastry Food For the Gods. Nariese’s regular customers loved it, so the name stuck. But the cafe’s sign says “FFTG” because the original name proved to be a mouthful.
Since many of her customers wanted more of her products, Nariese opened a physical shop. Her partner Chip soon joined her as FFTG’s resident barista.
The cafe’s name makes it seem like it’s exclusive to gays. But Food For the Gays Cafe is open to everyone, queer or not. Pets are also welcome, as the cafe has a resident kitty named Pilsen.
The FFTG experience
A rainbow flag adorns the door of the cafe. One of the first things customers see when they enter is a sign with the words “you are valid.” Chip and the rest of the staff welcome everyone with a cheery smile.
The atmosphere is warm and cozy, which means it feels like home. The wooden countertop tables lined with small potted plants give off a San Junipero vibe. There are shelves of merch and stacks of board games. Finally, the loft-style second floor has paintings by queer artists.
The menu had a few food items and a lot of beverages. Chip said that she was in charge of the drinks, and Nariese was in charge of the food.
The Pasta a la Carbonara (P150) was heavenly. It had a generous serving of pasta with creamy white sauce, topped with basil and parmesan. The iced latte (P110) was full-bodied and flavorful. Its coffee base was strong but not overpowering. But, the highlight was the grilled cheese sandwich (P80) and its thick center.
Finding a tribe at FFTG
DJ Collado is a trans man. Before he went to Food For the Gays Cafe with the FreebieMNL team, he didn’t know where he fits in. He joined LGBTQIA+ Facebook groups, but he had no one to talk to about his identity and orientation.
Our original plan was to visit the cafe and stay only until 8:00 PM. DJ ended up hanging out with Chip and Nariese until 4:00 AM. It wasn’t until he met them and some of their customers that he felt like he belonged.
He has always wanted friends he can talk to about transitioning. When he met a few transmen who frequented FFTG, DJ said he felt his true self emerge. He finally found his tribe, something he’d wanted for years.
Food For the Gays Cafe is a safe space for all
Nariese and Chip consider themselves parental figures. They’re ready to care for anyone who walks through FFTG’s doors, looking for family. They wanted the cafe to be a place where people can feel safe to be themselves.
Discrimination and homophobia aren’t allowed at Food For the Gays Cafe. Anybody who comes there must respect the place’s rules.
Featured Image Daniella Sison