SAN ANTONIO – For more than 25 years, Sari-Sari has been a staple for Filipino cuisine in our area.
“The original location on Wurzbach in Leon Valley was opened by my parents, Adam and Imelda Valenzuela, in 1995,” said Camille De Los Reyes, Sari-Sari Restaurant co-owner.
De Los Reyes’ parents emigrated from the Philippines to San Antonio in the 1980s. Her mother worked as a nurse, but the family realized there were little to no options for Filipino food in the area.
“It’s a little bit different than other Asian cooking. Some of the items we need are very specific, so my dad would have to travel to Houston to find those things,” said De Los Reyes. “And when he would, he would buy enough for the nursing community that lived in our neighborhood. It expanded to a market from the garage to the restaurant that it is now and grew from there.”
Fast forward three decades later and De Los Reyes, who now co-owns Sari-Sari with her husband Adrian, recently opened another location off Highway 151.
“The population is just growing and growing. Thank goodness for it. I feel like we’ve survived because of it,” she said.
That growth also gave De Los Reyes, and local design company DeuxSouth Creative, the idea to start a restaurant passport program to help locally owned Asian-American and Pacific Islander restaurants, especially since May is also AAPI Heritage Month.
More than 20 eateries and food trucks have already signed on for the passport program, and the list keeps growing.
Restaurant patrons who eat at any of the locations on the passport, which must be printed out beforehand, will get 10 percent off their meal throughout the month of May.
“I really wanted to bring attention to our culture and to other Asian cultures. In creating this restaurant, I had to find out a lot of similarities and differences between what makes us Filipino, what makes us distinctively Filipino versus other Asian cultures and how it also ties into the Spanish culture and the Mexican culture,” said De Los Reyes . “So, it’s just been a journey, and we’re learning more and more. It’s become a passion of mine to share that and to incorporate all of the other Asian cultures into it.”
De Los Reyes said it’s another way to honor her past and help these restaurants thrive in the future.
“It feels really good to bring light to this kind of thing. It feels like it’s an extension of myself,” said De Los Reyes. “When I feel like I’m doing something good and people want to be a part of it, it makes me feel good, and I hope that positivity and that love transpires.”
Click here for more information on the restaurant passport.
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