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Celebrating AAPI Business Owners in LA and SGV!

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM) is celebrated in May to help recognize the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States. May was declared to be APAHM through Congress to commemorate both the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843 and the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad on May 10, 1869.

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM), we’re highlighting Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) owned businesses in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley area.

Read their stories now:


Mukden Dumplings

Mukden Dumplings: We are a family-owned Chinese restaurant in Glendora, CA specializing in dumplings and noodle soups. All our dumplings are freshly handmade.

Hi-Fi Kitchen

HiFi Kitchen: HiFi Kitchen is a Filipino-Angeleno rice bowl joint, locally owned and operated in the Historic Filipinotown district of Los Angeles, California. Our menu draws inspiration from our eclectic city and spans a variety of dietary lifestyles with vegan, gluten-free, and low carb options. We are passionate about recognizing the heritage of our neighborhood and utilize our culinary platform to support creativity, build community, and celebrate culture.

Woon

Woon: We are a homestyle Chinese restaurant featuring my mom’s (Mama Fong’s) original recipes.

JJ Bakery

JJ Bakery: We are a family-owned and operated chain of Taiwanese style bakeries. Our first location was established in Hacienda Heights. Since then, we have established more locations in the City of Industry, Rowland Heights, Torrance, Temple City, Arcadia, and Alhambra. We use various Asian ingredients and French pastry techniques to create a balance of flavors and textures as East meets West! 

Genever

Genever: Genever is the only full-liquor bar owned and operated by Filipino women in LA County. We focus on gin as our spirit of choice, but pride ourselves on our innovative, crafted cocktails incorporating Filipino flavors and favoring female owned or distilled spirits. We offer quality, taste, and a welcoming atmosphere to all that enter our gold gilded door.

Fujin Ramen

Fujin Ramen: The dream of opening my own restaurant became a reality with Fujin Ramen. Our goal is to deliver great food and exceptional service with the right ambiance. These are the things we experience at home with our family. We treat every guest with love and respect.

Swirlz Creamery

Swirlz Creamery: Swirlz Creamery is a rolled ice cream shop based out in San Gabriel, CA. At Swirlz, we keep things simple. We pay homage to our SGV community by sourcing fresh local ingredients from some of the same markets we used to visit as kids… We’re not in the ice cream business serving people; we’re in the people business serving ice cream.

Alpaca Cafe

Alpaca Cafe: We started our cafe business with the intention of selling products that we ourselves enjoy and feel safe consuming.

Novas

Nova’s Grill: We are a small Filipino restaurant located in SGV. It was first started by Nova, who strived to open her lifelong dream of hosting and feeding people. With passion and drive, she was able to open up a small counter dine-in restaurant in Azusa, CA and soon moved to a bigger location in Covina, CA. 

Mukden Dumplings: Being part of the AAPI community feels like we have a voice. 

HiFi Kitchen: It means we have the privilege to share our interpretation of what being bicultural is, and there’s a network we can look to for empowerment and inspiration with whom we may closely relate to.

Woon: I think it was something I didn’t really embrace until more recently in life, and Woon has become a nod to my heritage.

JJ Bakery: Being a part of the AAPI community means that we get to enjoy, share, and celebrate the various cultures in our community. 

Cafe Wang: Being a part of the AAPI community gives me the opportunity to connect with people, to be inspired by others, and to reach my goals.  

Genever: We are proud of our history, our immigration stories, and seek to share that pride with others through our artistic expression of drink.

Fujin Ramen: We help introduce locals to Japanese ramen, be an influencer of Asian food culture, and educate the community about the wonderful flavors of good ramen. 

Swirlz Creamery: Being a part of the AAPI community and understanding the rich history, the cultures, and how far we’ve come keeps me pushing forward. 

Alpaca Cafe: Being able to share my cultural background and the fun behind the traditions is a fun way to interact with others.

Nova’s Grill: It’s nice to know that there is a community out there who try and support each other.

HiFi Kitchen: At times, a sense of community or being generalized and not being seen as American.

Woon: Specifically to food and restaurants, it’s the perception of Chinese food and its value. 

JJ Bakery: As of right now, we think that one of the biggest challenges that the AAPI community faces is xenophobia and that probably stems from the spread of misinformation. 

Cafe Wang: With the current situation we have right now with the COVID-19 pandemic, there is some fueling of racism and discrimination against Asians.

Genever: Post COVID-19… Many do not have the resources to last through several more months. 

Fujin Ramen: The most prominent issue the AAPI community is undertaking is the current anti-Asian racism correlated to COVID-19 pandemic. 

Swirlz Creamery: I believe xenophobia towards the AAPI community has been more apparent. 

Nova’s Grill: I feel like one of the challenges the community faces is misrepresentation.

 

 

 

 

Mukden Dumplings: With the impact of COVID-19, we started take-out orders and delivery. 

HiFi Kitchen: We started the #hifihospitality program which accepts donations to support medical workers and organizations in need as well as our own staff.

Woon: We quickly created a pick-up website and transitioned to pick-up/delivery only. We brought out our old Woon cart which we used to start as a pop-up and set it outside of the front door. 

JJ Bakery: One of the first things we did was to make everything at all of our locations to-go only and pause production on some of our items.

Genever: During this unprecedented time, we are allowed to offer to-go cocktails along with a meal. 

Fujin Ramen: On May 5th, we initiated a Frontline Worker Meal program on our Instagram and through customers, friends, family, and businesses donations we have provided ramen [meals] to these important workers.

Swirlz Creamery: The key areas we’re going to double down on are social distancing and stricter sanitation procedures… We’ll be practicing an even greater amount of discipline as a team to make sure everything is clean.

Alpaca Cafe: We have had to switch to online preorders and curbside pickup. 

Nova’s Grill: We have transitioned from a dine-in restaurant to a purely takeout business.

 

 

 

 

Mukden Dumplings: We still provide delicious handmade dumplings, but just eating them in the comfort of your own home.

HiFi Kitchen: Eat with us at least once a week. Talk to us on social media. Comment, like, and share our media. Donate to our #hifihospitality program.

Woon: A lot of people have bought merchandise and gift cards and definitely have been ordering a lot of pick up for multiple days. The larger orders really help our daily sales.

JJ Bakery: We hope that everyone just continues to come through not only our doors, but also other small businesses’ doors as well… We are also going to start our own in-house delivery system soon, so be on the lookout for that!

Genever: We ask that you partake in our cocktails to-go or purchase gift certificates for future use, either for yourself or as a gift. 

Fujin Ramen: The most notable way to support us besides ordering a ramen meal is to donate a gift card to support our frontline workers.

Swirlz Creamery: We’re reopening! For all information about our reopening, please follow our social media.

Alpaca Cafe: We are happy to provide our service through our online ordering system. 

Nova’s Grill: People can tell their friends about our business. We will give a 10% referral discount for those who do.

 

 

 

 

Mukden Dumplings: Of course, we won’t return to the way it is immediately, but we love to interact with our customers again!

HiFi Kitchen: Catching up with our regulars. Consistency. 

Woon: I look forward to people sitting around our tables and enjoying a family meal.

JJ Bakery: One of the things we are looking forward to is seeing more of our guests walk through our doors. Once they are able to, we’ll be right here waiting to help them out! 

Cafe Wang: We look forward to seeing more customers and our regulars stop by more often at Cafe Wang.

Genever: Truly the ability to give someone a hug, a handshake, or a big smile!

Fujin Ramen: As owners, one of our biggest misses is the awe-inspiring feedback through Yelp… It doesn’t matter if it’s a three or five-star [review], because it helps let us know if we are on track or if we missed an opportunity. 

Swirlz Creamery: Running a food establishment is stressful, so I need to let off the steam by going to the gym three or four times a week. 

Alpaca Cafe: The best part about having a cafe is meeting people from different places and learning their stories. 

Nova’s Grill: I miss setting up for boodle fights which are the most fun to watch. It makes the day so much faster when everyone is on overdrive!

Thank you to all the businesses that took the time to participate in this blog. Bookmark these businesses on Yelp today:

This is a time for all of us to reflect, pay homage, and celebrate Asian and Pacific Islanders in our country and their amazing feats and contributions to our shared history. We stand in solidarity against racism directed at people of Asian descent at-large.