Jerry Manalo and his wife, Donna, opened a traditional Filipino restaurant in 2008. After three years, they wanted a fresh start and sold it.
The Manalos decided that instead of staying in one place, they wanted to take their cooking on the road. They opened a food booth at the Saturday and Sunday markets in downtown and one year later, Jeepney by Adobo Grill, started making its rounds around Anchorage.
Jeepney by Adobo Grill offers fusion food apart from traditional Filipino food. For Jerry Manalo, fusion food is an easier introduction to Filipino cuisine.
"We came [up with] the fusion because a lot of people are scared of our food," he said. "...A lot of people ask [about] sisig. It's pork face; do you want to eat pork face? No, right?"
Instead of using pork cheeks for sisig, the Manalos use pork belly and add it to burritos, nachos and tacos to cater to their customers' palates. This method, Manalo said, might help open people's minds to trying more traditional Filipino food later on.
Apart from bringing Filipino food to more people, Manalo wants to be an example for the Filipino community. Many Filipinos come to the United States for job opportunities, but Manalo wants to encourage Filipinos to look at entrepreneurship.
"My goal, too, is just to tell our co-Filipinos that we can do something different — not just working here 12 hours a day," he said. "A lot of Filipino people are scared to do business. They're scared to fail. I'm not scared to fail...no matter what I'm still going to do my best to become successful."
Originally published and produced for Anchorage Founders Project.