For years, Kusina Filipina was a neighborhood hub for Beacon Hill, a Filipino restaurant that predated Seattle’s recent surge of interest in Filipino cuisine. The Paraiso family bought the place around 2010, a few years after immigrating from the Philippines, and built it up through word of mouth into one of South Seattle’s most beloved restaurants.
But in 2015, the building the restaurant occupied was purchased by new owners, an international company that seemed to have little interest in the neighborhood, Patrixia Paraiso tells Eater Seattle. The family tried to renew the lease, but was told that the landlords wanted to raise the rent and put them on a month-to-month contract. Facing this uncertainty, the family closed Kusina Filipina in 2017.
“We were displaced because the owners of the building didn’t really care for the community and what the restaurant was to the community,” Patrixia Paraiso says.
The family eventually purchased turnkey restaurants in Federal Way and Tacoma, and Patrixia and her sister, Paula, started a food truck called CheBogz — named after a combination of their nicknames for their parents. But there was clearly a hole remaining in Beacon Hill. When chef Tarik Abdullah created the Feed the People Plaza community space down the street from Kusina’s former location, it sprang out of a desire to honor the restaurant’s legacy.
Meanwhile, the Paraiso sisters struggled at times. Their food truck had been built in 1986 (making it about as old as they were), and it broke down more than once. They often parked in South Lake Union in order to serve office workers in the area, but then the pandemic closed those offices and had them scrambling to find other locations where they could acquire customers.
So with the help of the community group Beacon Business Alliance they began looking for locations for a new brick-and-mortar restaurant, eventually finding one at the Colina Apartments, across the street from the light rail station. The landlord is a former Kusina customer who seems genuinely interested in the community. In 2021, the sisters launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to cover construction costs, and to get a reassurance that the neighborhood would welcome them.
The Kickstarter, Patrixia Paraiso says, “was a way for us to understand that the community wanted us back.” Every notification that someone new had pledged their support was a “little win that made us so appreciative and grateful.”
The goal is for CheBogz to open on June 24. It’ll serve the same pork ribs, chicken adobo, and longganisa that the food truck has become known for, but the sisters hope to expand the menu to include silog — a classic Filipino breakfast of rice, eggs, and meat — and halo halo, a photogenic dessert that combines shaved ice, ube, and leche flan.
Paraiso is excited to be part of a neighborhood that has so many dining options within walking distance. The Station coffee shop is across the street, Musang and Carnitas Michoacan are down the road, and Homer and Bar Del Corso aren’t too far either. “Finding a home in Beacon Hill where we all started is a full circle for us,” Paraiso says. “It kind of makes it all worth it.”
And the old Kusina Filipina space is still in the neighborhood too, a visible wound — boarded up, smeared with graffiti, the sign now acting as a gravestone. The landlord still hasn’t done anything with it.