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Jan Parker reaches fundraising goal, will bring Filipino food to downtown Tacoma

 A woman wearing a blue blouse leans over a table serving a family.
Christine Robbins
Jan Parker
Jan Parker invited people to come out and enjoy some of her ube pancakes, sing some karaoke and support her efforts to open her own restaurant.

A Filipino restaurant is coming to Downtown Tacoma for the first time next fall. After launching a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, chef Jan Parker hit her goal on Thursday night to raise $71,000 to help open her own restaurant.

Jan Parker fell in love with food as a kid living in Italy where her dad was stationed. He supervised kitchens on Navy ships and her mom would have parties where she’d cook huge Filipino feasts.

"I started cooking when I was around 11 years old," Parker said. "We got stationed in La Maddalena, Italy, and basically the food there, especially specifically a calzone, pepperoni calzone, just made me fall in love with food and everything about it. Just the gooey cheese and the spicy pepperoni really had my heart."

Parker trained in classic European cooking but became more interested in cooking Filipino food when her husband was stationed abroad in Germany and she realized how much she missed the cuisine. After they moved back to Washington state, Parker started her own food business in 2017. She’s popped up around Tacoma at different events like farmers markets but now she’s looking for something more permanent.

"We feel like if we have a space, like a foundation, a place that doesn't move — because we cook out of canopies and we make our own kitchen every time we go to a farmers market — so we want to just have a foundation where we're not exerting so much energy and then we can focus on the food and make it even better," Parker said.

Plus, Parker thinks they're ready for a challenge. In 2020, she won “Best Chef” from South Sound Magazine. The planned restaurant would be her first brick and mortar operation.

Parker pointed out Filipinos make up one of the largest diasporas in the world but in Tacoma at least, there aren’t that many Filipino restaurants. Parker hopes to change that with Reyna, a brunch-focused spot in the heart of the city.

“We need more spaces to gather and we need more spaces to celebrate our existence and our food and our culture," Parker said. "And so that's what it's really about — it's just representation.”

In avideo she posted on Instagram after reaching her goal, Parker teared up thanking everyone for their support. On the Kickstarter page, she wrote:

"Your contributions have not only provided us with the necessary means to turn our dreams into reality but have also served as a constant source of inspiration and motivation. The impact of your support extends far beyond the financial aspect, as it reaffirms our belief in the importance of our mission and fuels our determination to succeed."

Parker hasn't disclosed the location of where the restaurant will be, but she has her sights set on Downtown Tacoma.

Updated: June 16, 2023 at 1:15 PM PDT
Adds outcome of Kickstarter campaign and statement from Parker.
Grace Madigan is KNKX's former Arts & Culture reporter. Her stories focused on how people express themselves and connect to their communities through art, music, media, food, and sport.