Recently ‘The FilAm,’ a new online magazine for Filipino Americans in New York, featured an interview with Erwin Santos, President of FilStop. Here are highlights from the article:
“Ten years ago people cooked so much at home,” he said. “Today, people like their food to go is what I’ve noticed.”
“Maybe Filipino Americans are not so much into hosting parties at home, or preparing food at the end of a hard day at work. They are more into ‘eating out’ or ordering food online or ‘to go.’ With this trend came a corresponding response: FilStop began offering a large assortment of cooked dishes for families who have a craving for traditional Philippine dishes — such as Adobo, Pancit noodles, Sinigang — but may be too drained at the end of the day to chop vegetables or wait for the meats to boil. The store also provides party platters for company events and family parties.
“I changed my philosophy. I like to see what customers want,” he said.
“Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, Erwin remembered spending his summers helping his father Oliver at the warehouse. He was about 6 years old then, and already helping pack rice or monggo beans in smaller bags or unloading containers he could carry.
“I was being babysat, not being made to work in the family business,” he said. “My father made it fun.”
“The business is FilStop, founded in 1973 by three Aguila sisters from San Jose, Batangas and their spouses. One of siblings was Erwin’s mother. The pioneering Filipino retail store in New Jersey became so successful it would later branch out into a bakery and an a la carte restaurant. It also became a distributor of Philippine food to smaller retailers. FilStop — originally named Phil-Am Food — has served Jersey City and nearby cities in Pennsylvania, New York, Washington D.C. area since the 1970s.
“In 2002, when the company was divided into individual parcels of ownership by the various family branches, the Santoses assumed ownership over the retail operation. In 2015, they changed the name to reflect the company’s expansion into e-commerce. It is no longer just a busy storefront on Newark Avenue, it is also an online store with thousands of customers around the world.
“We’ve grown from a small family store to a world-wide provider of Filipino food,” he said. “The name change was important to ensure we were building a brand that was uniquely ours.”
Read the complete article here.
Photos: FilStop’s retail store in Jersey City, N.J. offers a wide variety of hot, authentic Filipino food, prepared fresh daily for take-out, or eat in.