One roving chef has been a busy man this summer. Tarik Abdullah — who runs his own charitable initiative (Feed the People) and pop-up — has been deeply involved in the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective, which Filipino restaurant Musang launched in the spring to help those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, just down the road, Abdullah is collaborating with local artists on an outdoor gathering space for the neighborhood, filled with music, art, and food.
The new project is called Feed the People Plaza, and it started as mainly a grassroots painting effort back in late July. Abdullah tells Eater Seattle he simply wanted to create a mural on the old Kusina Filipina building in Beacon Hill with his friend, artist Malcom Proctor. For eight years, the immigrant-owned Kusina served as a popular spot for Filipino food, before it closed in 2017 (the family that ran the place later started a food truck called Chebogz). So the mural seemed like an apt tribute to the space.
“First we had to pay homage to the restaurant which fed many-a-folk in the neighborhood,” says Abdullah. “Second, we wanted to create a mural that contains a story and make it a neighborhood project.”
That effort slowly began to take shape, with other people joining in to create not only a large, colorful mural on a short stretch at S Hanford Street, but also artwork that expanded to the storefronts around the block on Beacon Ave S. Abdullah says there are 75 artists participating, some as young as age two.
But the collaboration goes beyond painting. By the time the third week of the mural project was in full swing, Abdullah decided to turn the event into a neighborhood hangout, with local vendors, a DJ, and food, all with people masked up and exercising social distancing protocols. On Sunday, Peruvian pop-up Mumu’s Kitchen was on hand, selling juicy rotisserie chicken and fries with a tangy mustard sauce, and local vendors sold Kenyan jewelry and T-shirts. Spiritual healer, life coach, and Orisha priest Omitosin delivered a Sunday service.
There’s been such a positive response — including a surge of donated supplies — that Abdullah is planning to continue hosting events every Sunday, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
“We are now over a month and half in, and the mural is getting bigger each day,” he says. Those interested can track the progress on Instagram.