KC Pinoy’s new spot on Genessee Street in the West Bottoms was an opportunity that just fell into Chrissy Nucum’s lap, said the owner of the Filipino food truck turned brick-and-mortar restaurant.
“I wanted something where there’s a sense of community within whatever area we choose,” said Nucum. “When the West Bottoms Kitchen decided to close and we looked at [the space] — it was kind of an ‘Aha’ moment for me to be honest. I’d like to get some more credit for it, but I really can’t. It was pure luck.”
The West Bottoms business community feels like a collection of tight-knit neighbors, she said.
“I forgot the screwdriver on our first week here, so I ran over to [Rockstar Burgers] and asked for a screwdriver — it’s stuff like that,” she said. “It’s all small businesses, so it’s nice to have that community rallying for your success as well as the whole area.”
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When the mobile Filipino cuisine concept first rolled out in 2015, the goal was always to eventually transition into a brick-and-mortar space, said Nucum, noting the seasonal nature of the food truck venture causing slow winter months and staff losses.
“That kind of put us at the risk of maybe losing [the cooks] for the next season just because they might find the job that they like a lot more or have a little bit more stability on scheduling,” she added.
With the West Bottoms space’s previous owner leaving the industry for good, said Nucum, the move-in deal included negotiations on everything from pots and pans to tables and chairs that would eventually seat 38 in the small but cozy space.
KC Pinoy’s restaurant is adorned with family photos and pictures of Nucum’s dog, she said, noting that everything from the decor to the menu adds a sense of family.
“We have touches of home,” said Nucum. “We have the utensil tubs that you find in the Philippines when you’re growing up where people kind of just grab a spoon and a fork and put your plate on the table and eat.
“We’re slowly working on it,” she added. “During the spring, we’ll have a few events lined up for outside that will make it feel more like a Filipino kind of fiesta of some sort. So, slowly but surely.”
Expansions to the menu followed a more regional focus with Nucum highlighting Kapampangan cuisine and traditional Filipino desserts, while keeping customer favorites like the chicken adobo, she said.
“In a food truck, space is very limited, and storage is very limited, so you can’t really do a lot of the fun dessert stuff that [reminds Filipinos] of home,” said Nucum. “In this space, we have a little bit more square footage to play around so we have a few extra menu items.”
The restaurant even features a small kiosk for Pasalubong — a Filipino tradition where travellers bring home presents from abroad, she added.
Check out a Startland video about KC Pinoy’s food truck below.