As much as guests enjoy the savory dishes at Cebu in Chicago, the brain behind the restaurant’s Filipino cuisine is confident her sweet treats will be just as popular.
After enduring the financial strain so common for restaurant owners during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cybill Tan and her business partners — her brothers — are taking the bold step of expanding their vision by opening Cafe Cebu, a small shop in Naperville focusing on pastries, sorbet and other desserts with a Filipino twist.
An exact date isn’t set, but Cafe Cebu will open soon at the site of a former ice cream shop in the Cress Creek Square Shopping Center at 790 Royal St. George Drive.
Even though the menu will be quite different from Tan’s Wicker Park restaurant, fans still will recognize the flavors.
“I’m going to bring some of the same flavors to the cafe, but I also want to mix it up,” Tan said. “We’ve been thinking about this for a while but it took us a while to find a location because we weren’t sure if we wanted to open it in the city or head to the suburbs.”
Tan and her brothers, Marlon, Malvin and Martin, were raised on their mother’s Filipino flavors while growing up in the Philippines. Cybill Tan came to the United States for college, earned a business degree, learned Mandarin in China and studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco before opening Cebu in 2019.
Within about a year, Tan and her brothers started envisioning the cafe and picked Naperville as the launching spot.
“We found the vibe was very good there,” Tan said. “It’s kind of quaint. The community feels good there.”
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Fans of Cebu will notice the familiar halo-halo ice treats and longanisa buns, but Cafe Cebu will offer a diverse batch of desserts highlighted by cookie sandwiches, ice cream and sorbet in numerous flavors including blueberry, coconut, guava, mango, passion fruit and strawberry.
Tan aims to keep popular items on the Cafe Cebu menu, but part of the fun of visiting will be the variety. She plans to rotate items as inspiration strikes based on her expertise in French and Asian cooking.
“I’m still working on some stuff,” Tan said. “I’m hoping the pop of Filipino flavors will get people’s attention.”