An old Volkswagen camper van serves as the cashier’s section, oil barrels are turned into seats, car tools decorate the walls, while a gas pump spews out beer at Cafe Racer, one of the newest and probably the hippest theme restaurants in Cebu.
Cafe Racer is inspired by a racing lifestyle in the United Kingdom (UK) where some bikers optimize their motorcycles for speed by stripping these down and race from cafe to cafe, according to restaurant owner Charlie Pages.
“The winner gets 20 euro,” he said. The black motorcycle inside the restaurant, Pages added, is an example of a lightweight and fast bike that cafe racers use.
Cafe Racer, which opened less than a month ago, is a rectangular flat-roofed building, with about a third of the top used as additional restaurant space. Inside, the ceiling is bare and the ventilation cables are out.
Restaurant furniture is a hodgepodge of regular and specially made furniture and fixtures. Those oil barrels ingeniously turned into two kinds of seats, stool and couch, can really make you take a second look.
Then there’s that cashier’s area walled off with an old Volkswagen van.
Other automobile odds and ends are used elsewhere in the restaurant compound. Some outside tables are made from colorful car hoods. The hand washing area has vehicle transmission parts for sinks and radiators as mirror frames.
The washrooms use license plates to designate the men’s from the women’s.
Al fresco dining
Cafe Racer sits on a big lot along Ouano Avenue in Mandaue City, shortly after Vivo Sugbo (formerly Amnezia Superclub) if you’re coming from Cebu City.
Aside from the main restaurant, there is a separate snack bar counter that features more al fresco dining and a coal grill under the open hood of a VW beetle.
What appears to be the gas pump island of a gas station is actually a beer drinking area as the malt brew, not fuel, comes out of the lone dispenser.
In this case, it serves fuel for humans not automobiles, said Pages. Aside from local beer, Cafe Racer serves important brands as well.
On the menu are sandwiches, burgers, pasta, pizza, salads, street food, desserts, steak, as well as chicken and pork dishes. Off the grill, there’s pork and chicken barbecue, chops, even hotdog.
It was mid-afternoon when we first visited the place, and Cafe Racer mostly functioned as a cafe. Customers were having coffee or snacks.
We came back at night and the place was overflowing with diners and people having drinks with friends. A few played loud music from their car stereos. It was a complete contrast to the quiet afternoon scene.
Cafe Racer operates from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. or even later and serves snacks and coffee, lunch, dinner as well as alcoholic beverages.