“That’s what I want folks to take away when they have our food and experience our space—that our legacy is one of survival, innovation and adaptability. We bring our traditions with us and develop new ones, changing the landscape and being changed by it in the process.”
— GEO QUIBUYEN, ’13, CO-OWNER OF HOOD FAMOUS
Three questions with Geo Quibuyen
1. You opened food establishments in both Ballard and Chinatown-International District. Has your perspective on Seattle changed in the process?
Geo Quibuyen: It’s been surreal jumping from the music industry to the food and hospitality industry, all while the city has undergone big changes. It’s always been changing, but the change curve has been more dramatic in the last four to five years than the previous 15 to 20.
If anything, all the things that I believed and felt for a long time, I now believe and feel even more intensely. Things such as addressing and combating displacement, organizing for equity for working-class people, centering POC and marginalized community narratives, linking the struggles of our homelands with the diaspora, etc. The ways and mediums through which I engage with these issues might’ve shifted, but the issues remain front and center as ever.
2. What kind of Filipino influences do you want to be part of the Hood Famous brand? What do you want the customer to take away from the culture?
Geo: I’m eclectic, and always have been. I can’t shy away from that. Some people see it as a lack of focus or commitment to one thing, but it’s my reality. I grew up in a Filipino household, surrounded by other Filipino families, but my crew has always included people from all kinds of ethnic backgrounds and personalities. I grew up in the mass-media, consumer-based pop-culture era, and witnessed a proliferation of new media and interactions with all kinds of culture.
I’m fascinated—and overwhelmed—by it all. We moved around a lot. And I’m not alone. The Filipino diaspora and global labor migration wave is one of the most wide-reaching, and everywhere our people go, we’re changing and being changed by the locales we become a part of. That’s what I want folks to take away when they have our food and experience our space—that our legacy is one of survival, innovation and adaptability. We bring our traditions with us and develop new ones, changing the landscape and being changed by it in the process.
3. How does being in Chinatown-International District inspire you?
Geo: Being in the CID means a lot to us. I became familiar in my late teens/early 20s with its deep history for many marginalized and immigrant communities, its ever-changing present and uncertain future. It’s become the neighborhood I’m most familiar with, perhaps even more than the ones I’ve lived in. Even before we opened our first brick-and-mortar in Ballard, we scoped out the neighborhood, unable to find a spot back then. When the opportunity came to open a spot, we hustled in every direction possible to make it happen.
So many things had to fall in place for us, and it did. The Filipino presence in the neighborhood, once thriving, has dwindled during our generation and we wanted to honor the legacy of folks who lived, worked, ran businesses in the hood long before we did. We’re currently the only Filipino-owned restaurant in the district, but we hope others open shop nearby, too.
Everything you see in the space is intentional—from cultural artifacts to the visual design inspired by materials, patterns and colors in the Philippines, and black & white archival photos of the community on the wall courtesy of Filipino American National Historical Society. The vibe is all about the present moment, but inspired and informed by history and building a foundation for the future.