Story by Jenna Klein Images courtesy of Filberto's
It’s the late ‘90s on a beautiful sunny day. You’re eating the best lumpia you’ve ever had at a little store named Filberto’s in front of a residential home in the Philippines. You’ve never had Filipino food before, but you know that if this was a local spot in your city you’d be a regular.
Flash forward to March of 2022, and Filberto’s now has a storefront at BANKS Food Hall in Columbus, GA, and the community is raving. I had the chance to speak with Miguel Pacle about the history behind the incredible food and family at Filberto’s.
Image courtesy of the restaurant.
Yes, Filberto’s started in the late ‘90s as a little store in front of this family owned business’ home in the Philippines. After moving to the U.S. and during the peak of the pandemic, chef Grace Frost and her family were laid off from their jobs due to COVID. They decided to start cooking for fun and posting it to Facebook for their friends to see, and before they knew it their friends were asking to buy plates from them.
“Our first big order was from a snack cakes manufacturing company. I remember them ordering 17 plates of our Beef Caldereta (beef stew in tomato sauce with potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and olives) from us for their lunch. Then it just took off from there,” said Pacle.
After starting a Facebook specifically to sell their plates, a friend of the family suggested that they join Market Days on Broadway in Uptown Columbus Georgia.
“With no expectations, we joined the Saturday market as a pop-up restaurant and we were lucky enough to have a very supportive community here in Columbus. We did not expect to have our food sold out in just operating for a couple of hours,” said Pacle.
They went on to do both the 2020 and 2021 seasons of Market Days on Broadway, several Fort Benning and Midland, GA, pop-ups and countless catering for birthdays, baby showers, corporate events and two weddings prior to opening in BANKS Food Hall. After amassing over 3,500 followers across their social media in only one year of being open as a pop-up restaurant, customers kept asking when they would be opening a brick and mortar location.
“The support for small local businesses here in Columbus has been overwhelming but in a good way. When we were doing Market Days on Broadway, people would wake up at 9 a.m. to save their spot in line to get their favorite Filipino dish,” said Pacle. “Even if the weather was nice or not, even if it was chilly outside, people would still show up and give their support. One thing that we also noticed is that Columbus foodies are not afraid to try anything. They are not afraid to refine and add a new taste to their palate.”
Filberto’s had the option of opening a full dine-in restaurant, starting a food truck or selling food at the mall food court, but knew that going with BANKS Food Hall was the best choice for them. Their Grand Opening was March 12th, and it was so successful that they couldn’t handle the amount of support the community brought. However, operations have gone smoothly since.“We always aim to make sure that everyone is served and fed as it is a part of the Filipino values and culture,” said Pacle.
“One of our goals for Filberto’s is for our customers to feel the inviting and warm Filipino hospitality. We want you to eat your food as if you're eating from our home, with us, at a one big dining table, the Filipino way. We want you to feel the sense of belongingness. That is one important part of Filipino values and culture,” said Pacle. “We have strong family ties. If you’ve ever bought a plate from us, you immediately become a part of the Filberto's Fam. This is what we call our customers who have been alongside our journey and have supported us since day one. At Filberto’s, we want to be able to showcase and share our culture and traditions. We want to celebrate the rich history behind Filipino cuisine. We believe that it is time for Filipino food to be recognized around the world and we are very pleased to be representing our culture here in the Southeast.”
If you haven’t tried Filberto’s yet, or if you’re completely new to Filipino cuisine, we recommend you try the BBQ Skewers which are marinated on a bamboo stick and glazed with their Filipino style BBQ sauce, the stir-fried noodle dish with chicken and vegetables called Pancit or the pork and vegetable egg rolls called Lumpia. If you have a sweet tooth, try the Halo-Halo! It has layers of sweet beans, pandan jelly, coconut gel, candied fruits and coconut strips with shaved ice, milk and sugar, topped with leche flan (Filipino version of creme caramel), ube halaya (purple yam jam) and pinipig (sweet rice crispies).
For more information, visit their website and if you pay them a visit don't forget to let them know we sent you!