Dennis Coffee Shop was first established in Jolo in 1962. The coffee shop, initially called Omar's Place was among the industry pioneers, and was managed by the family matriarch, Ubbaisa Ahalul. Though without a formal education, it was through her inherent entrepreneurial skills and own brand of business management that the coffee shop grew into the enterprise that it is today.
The name "Dennis Coffee Shop" came into use after the birth of Ubbaisa's first grandson, Dennis. The family succeeded in expanding to 5 branches in Jolo, all managed by relatives and next of kin. It has become a family tradition, now being handed down to the third generation.
Imelda Ahalul-Dagus, the eldest of Ubbaisa's grandchildren realized the significance of preserving such a heritage. After working abroad for 23 years, Imelda decided to return home to fulfill a mission of preserving a family legacy and keeping Sulu coffee culture alive. Imelda says "it's not just about coffee, it's also about culture and legacy".
Imelda spearheaded the project of expanding and taking the business to the next level. She had put together a plan to bring Sulu's Dennis Coffee to Zamboanga City and this time, as the more upscale Dennis Coffee Garden (DCG). "We want to create something of value, which our community can be proud of".
DCG is the first of its kind in Zamboanga, it aims to offer not only quality coffee and native delicacies, but also ambiance and space. Aside from a garden and alfresco dining area, there will be function rooms and other facilities for meetings/gatherings that would cater to families, social groups and customers from nearby offices, colleges and commercial establishments. Additionally, it is located near the airport to provide travellers the perfect waiting lounge or a place to dine, meet and relax as soon as they arrive in Zamboanga.
Despite these innovations, DCG seeks to continue with traditional way of brewing - no paper filters, no electricity consumption - "we will brew our coffee the way our Grandmother did it when she started the business 53 years ago".