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Tampa's first Filipino 'sari-sari' store and eatery to open

Non-traditional food but with genuine Filipino flavors.

TAMPA, Fla. — Julie Feliciano is bringing a taste of Filipino cuisine and culture to Tampa.

Lucky Tigre is launching a soft opening the weekend of Oct. 15. It'll be the first 'sari-sari' style store and eatery in the area.

"I am beyond excited. I feel very lucky," Feliciano, who grew up in Tampa, said.

'Sari-sari' stores are common throughout every neighborhood in the Philippines. They're similar to walk-up bodegas.

The word translates to "variety" in Tagalog. 

Inside, snacks, shampoo, detergent, and sometimes small food, and fresh drinks can be found.

In Feliciano's case, Filipino dishes with her own twist.

"It's not traditional, but it is like genuine Filipino flavors through the lens of growing up Filipino American," Feliciano said. 

Credit: Photo courtesy Lucky Tigré

While the Philippines is at the heart of the store, Feliciano said it will encompass a fusion of Asian delicacies.

The dishes will include dumplings, steamed buns, greens, with plant-based options, and dairy-free drinks. Plus, a mix of Asian American snacks.

For instance, chicken adobo, a staple in the Philippines, will be served inside fluffy bao buns. Drinks with popular Filipino flavors like calamansi, a citrus fruit, and ube, common in deserts, will also be incorporated. 

"It's such a diverse, like melting pot of cultures in the Philippines, there's so many different influences," Feliciano said.

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She said she hopes her store can be an introduction for guests unfamiliar with the food and culture. It hasn't always been accessible to all unless someone already has ties to the Filipino community.

Growing up, Feliciano cooked alongside her mother, who will be making Pinoy baked goods. The lack of Filipino representation in the local food scene would later inspire her to share dishes herself.

However, she considers the opening a success not just for herself, but for the entire Filipino community.

Credit: Photo by Rickey Kim

"I love the community that we have here," Feliciano said. "I can't wait to keep opening it up and bringing more people in."

Already, Feliciano has held pop-up shops in Tampa and St. Petersburg to preview her store.

The soft opening will launch at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 1101 S Howard Ave Suite B in Tampa.

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