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SAN ANTONIO – For more than 25 years, Sari-Sari has been a staple of Filipino cuisine in our region.

“The original location on Wurzbach in Leon Valley was opened by my parents, Adam and Imelda Valenzuela, in 1995,” said Camille De Los Reyes, co-owner of the Sari-Sari restaurant.

De Los Reyes’ parents emigrated from the Philippines to San Antonio in the 1980s. His mother worked as a nurse, but the family realized there were few or no options for Filipino food in the area. .

It’s a bit different from other Asian dishes. Some of the items we need are very specific, so my dad would have to go to Houston to find those things,” De Los Reyes said. “And when he did, he bought enough for the nursing community that lived in our neighborhood. It expanded to a marketplace from the garage to the restaurant it is now and grew from there.

Fast forward three decades later and De Los Reyes, who now co-owns Sari-Sari with her husband Adrian, recently opened another location near the 151 freeway.

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“The population just grows and grows. Thank goodness for that. I feel like we survived because of that,” she said.

This growth has also given De Los Reyes and local design firm DeuxSouth Creative the idea of ​​launching a restaurant passport program to help Asian-American and Pacific Islander restaurants, especially since May is also the AAPI Heritage Month.

More than 20 restaurants and food trucks have already signed up for the passport program, and the list keeps growing.

Restaurant patrons who eat at any of the locations listed on the passport, which must be printed out beforehand, will receive a 10% discount on their meal throughout May.

“I really wanted to draw attention to our culture and other Asian cultures. In creating this restaurant, I had to discover many similarities and differences between what makes us Filipino, what makes us distinctly Filipino compared to other Asian cultures and how it also relates to Spanish culture and Mexican culture” , De Los Reyes said. . “So it’s just been a journey, and we’re learning more and more. It has become a passion for me to share this and to integrate all the other Asian cultures into it.

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De Los Reyes said it was another way to honor its past and help these restaurants thrive in the future.

“It really feels good to shed some light on this stuff. I feel like it’s an extension of myself,” De Los Reyes said. “When I feel like I’m doing something good and people want to be a part of it, it makes me feel good, and I hope that positivity and love comes through.”

Click here for more information on the Restaurant Passport.

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