On September 5, 1975, Glenda Barretto, an
intrepid culinary expert, raised the curtains of the first Via Maria. The
idea of establishing a restaurant was hatched by a group of businessman
and their wives who have tried the list of restaurants in the metro and
found them wanting in many aspects. Thus, Larry and Flor Tolosa, Efren and
Judith Bautista, Bert and Fely Arceo, Carol and Gov. Jose Roño, Pancho and
Glenda Barretto bonded together to create the perfect dining milieu.
Located on Legazpi Street in Makati, Via Mare was established at the
second floor of the La Tasca Building as a seafood specialty restaurant,
serving the most sumptuous catches from the seas. Mrs. Barretto, with her
prodigious knowledge of the culinary arts, took the challenging task of
developing the restaurant’s menu and concocting new innovative recipes.
In no time, Via Mare’s fine cuisine and service became a byword in Manila
– and with this came the insistent clamor for catering. The burgeoning
demand for catering prompted Via Mare’s management to establish its
catering division. Today, this Division accounts for serving a
considerable portion of the upscale market. It boasts of having created to
some of the most demanding functions with more than five thousand pax. The
catering division was housed in a building in Pasong Tamo and featured a
handsome dining room with palo china crates serving as walls.
Indeed, Via Mare’s eminence in the restaurant industry in the 70’s is
evident in the functions it has created: Its first significant catering
was the opening of the Canlubang Golf and Country Club in Laguna. In 1976,
when the government first opened the doors of the National Arts Center in
Makiling, Via Mare prepared a memorable banquet of the esteemed guests
which included King Fahd. Via Mare prepared dinner for the participants
and officials of the 25th World Cup in Wack Wack in 1977. On March 11,
1978, the Queen of Malaysia had a sampling of Philippine haute cuisine
when Via Mare catered the luncheon and dinner at the Maharlika II for her
Highness. It also prepared dinner for then Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda
at the State Dining Room of the Malacañang Palace on July 11, 1979. If
tributes to Via Mare’s fine cuisine are to be measured, perhaps no other
gesture of appreciation can equal Ivan Rebrof’s show of thanks. In 1977,
after dining at Via Mare, the famed Russian basso profundo did an
astounding performance to salute Via Mare’s cuisine.
In the 80’s, Via Mare added yet another feather to its cap, by extending
its service through the Café Via Mare, which lured shoppers and
moviegoers. This dining concept has been hailed as a pioneering attempt at
creating a truly Filipino café. Maintaining its own kitchen, this outlet
copped a niche in the hearts of diners with such heartwarming fares as
bibingka, puto bumbong, pancit luglog and dinuguan.
Naturally, when it came to entertaining world leaders, the powers that be
sought Via Mare’s excellent services. It has bewitched the taste buds of
some of the world’s most influential figures – from Prime Minister Lee
Kuan Yew of Singapore to President Gerald Ford, from then California
Governor Ronald Reagan to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, from England’s
princess Margaret to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Bhuto. Via Mare was also
responsible for whipping up a virtual feast in entertaining the stars and
official of the MIFF 1983 at a glittering welcome dinner and cocktails,
which awarded the rest of the world.
Via Mare was called to execute dinner for Senator Stephen Solarz of the US
when he visited the country in 1987. US Secretary of State George P.
Schultz and San Francisco Mayor Diane Feinstein also had a sampling of Via
Mare’s culinary expertise.
For Via Mare, this was also a time for looking at horizons outside the
country. In 1988, it brought its culture of fine cuisine to the U.S. by
opening the first Via Mare outside the country in Los Angeles, California.
The restaurant, which features a formal dining room and a coffee shop, has
since attracted not just the expats in L. A. longing for the familiar
tastes of Filipino homecooking, but a growing number of foreigners who
have fallen in love with Philippine cuisine because of Via Mare’s
When President Aquino went back to the U. S. to address the American
Congress, Via Mare prepared a lavish feast featuring the “Best of
Philippine Cuisine” at J.C. Penney and the Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas.
In 1987, when the members of the ASEAN convened in Manila, Via Mare
provided the exquisite dinner to the heads of state of the Philippines,
Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei.
With the building boom in 1990, Via Mare, at the insistence of its
President, finally decided to build a home it can rightfully claim as its
own. A four-storey edifice rose on Bagtikan Street in Makati, proudly
announcing the name Via Mare Building. The establishment of this
impressive headquarters marked Via Mare’s active stance in reaching out to
more sectors of the society.
Again Via Mare was called upon to provide gastronomic delights in many
landmark events such as dinner for the 1994 Miss Universe Opening Night
and the bunch for the 1994 Miss Universe Coronation Toast, the welcome and
fellowship dinner of the 1991 SEA Games, and the dinner of the World Law
Via Mare operates the food and beverage service at the penthouse of the
posh Philippine Stock Exchange Center in busy Ortigas. It provided a haven
for the workaholic bourses of the trading floor with a stunning view of
the city’s skyline amid a relaxing ambience. Here, in the highest
restaurant in all of Asia, one can dine to the heart’s content and still
conduct business in a setting that is both conducive to relaxing and
closing deals. With this outlet, Via Mare has cornered all fronts: from
the glitzy set to the mall breed to the hardworking crowd of the corporate
Via Mare also regaled the discriminating tastebuds of some truly important
people like American Ambassadors Nicolas Platt and Frank Wisner, Japanese
Ambassador Toshio Goto and His Holiness Pope John Paul II when he made his
nostalgic Pastoral Visit to our shores to lead the Celebration of World
It catered to the members of the CBS, CNN, NBC, ABC and White House press
covering President’s Clinton’s brief sojourn in Manila on November 1994.
Too, it served as official caterer to two of the world’s living legend in
opera – Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras – during their respective
concerts in Manila.
The restaurant was also a constant choice caterer a numerous industry
events like the Kalakbay Awards, the ASEAN Tourism Forum and Chefs on
Parade. Beyond Philippine shores, Via Mare has stirred the tastebuds of
foreigners in many Philippine food festivals abroad. Among them are the
Fiesta Filipina Extravaganza in Beijing, the Philippine Fiesta in
Singapore, the Fiesta Filipino in Kuala Lumpur and Kuching, the Philippine
Festival in Tokyo, Japan, World Expo in Seville, Spain, the Centennial
Banquet by the Makati Business Club in Hongkong hosted by President Fidel
V. Ramos for the APEC, the Hannover and Anuga Fairs in Germany, the World
Expo in Lisbon, Portugal, Sial Fair in Paris, and the 2nd Asean-India Food
Festival, New Delhi, India. Via Mare also catered the Filipiniana Dinner
sponsored by the International Container Terminal Services Inc. at Alvear
Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina for the state visit of President
Estrada last September 1999.
Aside from numerous raves it has received from the public sector, Via
Mare’s excellence has also been hailed and admired by the different food
societies that have welcomed its membership. Among them are the Chaine des
Rotisseurs, the Food and Wine Society, the American National Restaurant
Association, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines, and
the Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation. It has also been
accorded the Class A Restaurant stamp by the Department of Tourism. Via
Mare was elevated to the Hall of Fame Restaurant of the Year after
receiving the Kalakbay Award for three consecutive years since 1995.
In 1997, Via Mare was chosen as the ASEAN Seafood Restaurant by the ASEAN
Fisheries Federation based in Jakarta, Indonesia. In the same year, Via
Mare published two cookbooks namely “Asean Seafood Cookbook” and “The
Flavors of the Philippines” authored by Glenda Barretto. Both books are
available at the Via Mare outlets and National Bookstore.
Via Mare brings its rich tradition of fine cuisine into the frozen food
industry with the name brand Redi-Feast Meal – a variety of popular
Philippine dishes namely: Kare-kare, Adobo, Kalderetang Baka/Tupa,
Pinakbet, Laing, Lumpia Ubod, Callos and Pancit Luglog. To satisfy more of
the Filipino’s appetite Via Mare opened its manufacturing at Guadalupe –
Nutri-food Specialists, Inc. Mrs. B’s Pancit are canton noodle variants:
Pancit Saluyot (rich in Beta-carotene); Pancit Kalabasa (good source of
Vitamin A); Pancit Guso (Iodine rich noodle) and Pancit Ube (rich in
Vitamin B Complex).
Via Mare’s latest expansion strategy is franchising. Outlets of Café Via
Mare and Via Mare Oyster Bar are at the Rockwell Center, Eastwood Center
in Libis and Ayala Alabang.
The mission of
Via Mare is to fully utilize its core competencies in the profit, growth
and excellence-oriented management and operation of specialty restaurants,
coffee shops and catering services as the leading provider of first class
product and services in the food and beverage and other allied businesses
to communicate and market its serves.
Via Mare is the
leading company engaged in the business of first class food and beverage
and consultancy; to be engaged in manufacturing, trading and supply of
hotel and restaurant products and services; agri-business; and
franchising, with its firm commitment to quality, service and professional
excellence achieved through profitable growth, long term value to
shareholders, respect for the welfare and the interest of employees, and
total satisfaction of customers worldwide.