For most people, opening a business during the pandemic would have been a risk not worth taking or even an outright huge no-no. But for the man behind Karrera Showroom, the newest car and café spot in Alabang, his concept would not have seen the light of day if it were not for the pandemic.
Alfredo Lorenzo Roa has always been into cars, specifically European cars. His love for the latter began with an MK2 VW Golf that he was given when he was old enough to drive. He learned to import spare parts early on, as classic European car parts were hard to come by locally. This skill grew from being just a hobby to becoming his work then eventually becoming his lifestyle. He is the owner of Garage 2233 best known for servicing, maintaining and building European cars, specifically Porsches and BMW M-Sport vehicles. He is also part-organizer of the European Touring Car PH which advocates grassroots motorsport and competitive driving on the track and not on the road.
Alfredo’s love for European cars is quite obvious as his showroom is named after one of Porsche’s most popular and bestselling models. “Firstly, I am quite the Porsche fan, and the Porsche 911 is well-known as the Carrera,” he shared. Going for a classic and retro appeal to the showroom’s logo, Alfredo added that “we shared inspiration from the KKK Turbo Manufacturing Company famous in the 1970’s for their brand and turbos that dominated motorsports (at the time).” Hence, Karrera’s name and its logo were born.
“Karrera Showroom was first conceptualized years ago, during my studies in Europe and travels to Japan,” Alfredo said. He spent a lot of time in car museums, immersing himself and enjoying historic race cars. He wanted to bring the same feeling he felt during his travels and immersions back to Manila but needed the perfect location, timing and resources. Everything aligned when Filinvest’s Bloc 10 came about during the pandemic.
“I saw this area as the best location for Karrera. With a lot of support from Filinvest, I was able to build my concept despite all the hindrances and risks of the pandemic,” Alfredo enthused.
And build it, he did. Think of Karrera as a Sunday car meet with coffee and breakfast but make Sunday every day. This car meet is also open to any and all spectators and the cars displayed are changed every so often so visitors are treated to something new and exciting with every visit.
The industrial vibe of the place perfectly complements the macho energy being given off by all the cars parked and displayed inside the showroom. At the time of this writer’s visit, paintings of Porsches by Alfredo’s uncle, artist Ramon Diaz, himself a passionate car enthusiast, hung on the walls, as well as works by young talented painter Marc Abasolo. Every spot inside the showroom is Instagram-ready, every nook and cranny screams “a motoring enthusiast lives here.”
The nine-month-old Karrera Showroom is an expression of Alfredo’s creativity and serves as the perfect spot for cars and coffee not just for his fellow automotive enthusiasts but also for everyone. “I saw the community hungry for a car-focused café with good parking and a good drive going to it, as well,” Alfredo averred.
“There were a lot of risks when opening a business during a pandemic and you really have to think out of the box,” Alfredo opined. His advice for those who would want to open their own businesses during this time of the new-normal is to have the ability to run an efficient system with the least amount of overhead and have strategies in place for pandemic-related situations. “The field has been leveled and there are new opportunities out there for every industry,” Alfredo enthusiastically shared. He went on to say, “I admit, this concept would not have been possible if the pandemic did not happen.”
When asked what people should expect when they go to Karrera, Alfredo answered: “One, to get up close and personal, comfortably, with your dream cars; Two, to enjoy the food, the coffee and the conversations you would have with other enthusiasts; And three, most importantly, to experience the inspiration to achieve the impossible.”