GAMECHANGERS Inc.: (back row) Philip de Jesus, Ryan Flores; (second row from back) Rambo Nuñez, Michael Carandang, Francis Tolentino, Gilberto Baltazar; (third row from back) Francis Libiran, Arsi Baltazar, Penn Roque; (foreground) Michelle Punongbayan, Francis Flores PHOTOS BY PJ ENRIQUEZ
A new hangout place where every corner is Instagram-worthy
The brick-stack wall with a bicycle parked outside the entrance lends the place an old New York ambience. The neon blaze of the number 27 calls attention to this multi-level apartment bar on a corner lot between the old and new BGC.
Inside, the blaze of the magic hour—more like cocktail hour—and the stylized, midcentury Scandinavian furniture remind you of someone’s digs.
The sign welcomes the guests: “Home is where the story begins.”
Unique bar concept
Graphic design is integral to Unit 27 Apartment Bar + Café, a new dining and clubbing destination. Unlike other bars, it recreates the experience of being in your buddy’s place for beer and hearty meals.
The concept was born out of young executive Francis Flores’ undergraduate thesis about a unique bar concept. An executive in a local multinational company, Flores commissioned interior designer Wilmer Lopez to decorate his unit in a BGC condo.
Numbered Unit 26, the place reflects the industrial feel of rough cement finish on the walls, weathered brick, distressed wood, tufted leather furniture and quirky vintage accessories, with wooden moose heads, mismatched stools and graphic lettering.
The focal point is a well-stocked bar where friends gather to drink and eat pizzas and burgers.
Flores vowed that he would finally turn his college dream of putting up a bar into a reality before he turned 40. Thus, Unit 27 Apartment Bar + Café, which looks more like an annex of Unit 26.
The main difference is that Unit 27 is run by Gamechangers Inc., of which Flores is the chair and CEO.
He credits his partners for the restaurant-bar’s immediate success: major investor and marketing consultant Penn Roque; finance director Michelle Punongbayan; chief operating officer Ryan Flores; producer-director Michael Carandang; lawyer Philip de Jesus; fashion designer Francis Libiran; fashion entrepreneur Arsi Baltazar; chef-hotelier Gilberto Baltazar; events specialist Rambo Nuñez; TV show host and executive chef Francis Tolentino; beauty scion Cristalle Belo Henares; and businessman Henry Chan.
As in Flores’ Unit 26 condo, designer Lopez continued the New York loft look for Unit 27. The interior design is characterized by exposed ceilings and exhaust pipes, red bricks, stainless steel and metal fixtures, open space plans, library shelves as a divider, bold graphic lettering and photographs as artworks.
On the third floor, a fake window provides a view of a city that leaves people guessing if it were some place in New York or Europe.
“The ground floor is like a warehouse that has been converted into an apartment. We wanted guests to immediately feel at home,” says Lopez.
The loft feel is created with the use of furniture and accessories from Lopez’s furniture company Space Encounters, which specializes in customized midcentury furniture. The pieces don’t match, to make the place feel homey rather than like a showroom.
The layout allows guests to enjoy either intimate corners or gathering spots. Behind the main dining room, a small area was raised and separated by a bookshelf that displays books and vintage objects.
The “library” is for people who want some “me time” while poring over books or gazing out the window.
Flores has another directive: “Make every corner Instagram-worthy!”
Lopez takes the ordinariness out of a stairwell by building a fake fireplace that becomes the focal point.
“It’s simulated,” explains the designer. “As an installation art, it’s framed with gold and acrylic around the wood for contrast. We wanted everything to be interesting, and you’ll find some selfie wall somewhere.”
On the second-floor music bar, a long counter overlooks the ground floor so people could see visitors coming in. Music videos are shown on a curved wall. Flores will sell music merchandise and vinyl records soon.
Guests can order the cool drawers that mimic DVD players. There’s a counter by the window where people can slug on their laptops.
The action is on the third level, where the signs say it all: “Jack (as in Daniels) lives here,” “No Drugs, No Drama” and “You Don’t Get Drunk Here, You Only Get Awesome.”
Artist Leeroy New designed the focal point, a metallic faceted installation that frames the bar.
For a playful touch, New sewed in dragon wings on Converse sneakers that dangle from the ceiling.
The most photographed corner is a wall with neon-lit thought balloons. Guests frequently pose in front of the thought balloons to mimic cartoon strips.
A lighting fixture, which looks like a skeletal version of the Sputnik satellite, is wittily named “Tuliro,” meaning dazed—presumably one’s state after some serious drinking.
Options for socializing are many; there are seating areas for conversations, and an open bar at the center for big bashes. An enclosed area is for non-smokers and quiet talks.
“Even if you’re alone and feeling shy, you can still feel at home here. Francis (Flores) wants you to feel you belong here. This is a place where people can connect,” says Lopez.
Unit 27 is located at Unit C, Icon Plaza Building, 26th Street, Bonifacio Global City. Tel 8941692 and 0917-8868853.