In 1965, Alfonso Sarayba, Sr., whom family and friends called Ponso, bought 8 hectares of fishpond in the town of Kawit, Cavite. Fishponds were considered especially good sources of income, but Ponso wanted to transform his fishpond into something different. What he had in mind was building a housing subdivision over land he was going to reclaim from it.
Despite numerous obstacles and relatives’ thinking him crazy, Ponso was not discouraged. He borrowed money from friends to raise enough capital for his business plan. This was considered a pioneer undertaking then because land reclamation was not the usual practice at the time.
During the construction of the housing subdivision, someone thought of opening an eatery. The fish were plentiful and the workers needed to eat. Ponso opened the restaurant and named it after his wife, Josephine, whom many called Josie.
On December 22, 1966, the first Josephine Restaurant opened to the public. The people came in droves. They were eager to leave the hectic city life in Manila to enjoy the provincial air that boosted their appetite for fresh seafood.
Josie took over the entire business and imparted her culinary skills to her growing number of employees. JOSEPHINE RESTAURANT, The Home of Fresh Seafood became the family’s major line of business.
Encouraged by the restaurant’s success, Ponso and Josie soon opened the resort in May 1967. It was constructed on the opposite side of the fishpond from the restaurant. Josephine Restaurant later branched out to the cities of Cubao in 1972, Baclaran in 1973, Pasay in 1976, Makati in 1979, Greenhills in 1986 and Tagaytay in 1995.
Josephine Resort was also one of the first resorts outside of Manila. Schoolchildren from the city jammed into schoolbuses to take the historical tour of Kawit, where Philippine Independence was declared on June 12, 1898. They also enjoyed going to Josephine Resort for row boating, horseback riding, biking, swimming, bowling, skating and eating at Josephine Restaurant.
Throughout their years in business, Ponso and Josie met politicians, show business personalities and business moguls but always kept a low profile. Josie tried to teach her family the value of humility and frugality.
Today, 40 years later, Josephine Restaurant ages gracefully with time. There still is that provincial gentility people seek out and enjoy at Josephine Restaurant. The fishpond is especially placid as it reflects those famous Philippine sunsets. Patrons view it best from the restaurant balcony, the same balcony where Ponso used to sit and enjoy the fine home cooking tradition of his wife Josie.
“I so love the white tents with white drapes and swags! Outdoors, fresh air, green everywhere, cold climate, natural fog coming from everywhere, good food (especially the Waldorf salad). Good point is they are very flexible with their packages.” Joseph & Junlyn
“I love them! The first one who entertained my inquiries was Mr. Alfonso, the owner, himself then was transferred to Ms. Amie, whom I met when I went to pinas last year and then finally handed over to Ms. Anne Arce. I am satisfied with their services.” Rico & Emtee
“Food was superb (according to our guests, kasi di ako gano nakakain). Guests from overseas cant stop raving about the grilled tuna belly. Pineapples were very sweet.Service was also great, waiters were courteous and service was fast, but they forgot to serve us the Chicken Maregno.” Jon & Tin
Here are some wedding photos held at Josephine’s Restaurant
Parasol Garden, Josephine Restaurant, Tagaytay
Telephone: (+632) 842.9851
Fax: (+6346) 413.1802