Guerrilla Street Food co-owners Joel Crespo and Brian Hardesty have taken their Filipino-American fusion food to Webster Groves.
Joel Crespo and Brian Hardesty began their restaurant in the back of what was once a laundry van. Since its debut in 2011, however, Guerrilla Street Food has quickly grown in popularity.
Since then, Crespo and Hardesty have opened 6 brick-and-mortar locations. Their newest location, which opened on Jan. 7, is at 43 S. Old Orchard Ave. in Webster Groves.
This week, the co-owners announced the closure of two locations. They will be closing their Maryland Heights and Tower Grove East restaurants.
Despite the closures, Crespo and Hardesty are excited to bring their Filipino-American inspired food to the students of Webster University and look forward to working with the larger webster community.
“Webster is a community we have always had our eye on,” Hardesty said. “We want to be a part of that growing scene, and we think that Filipino food is missing from that community and that’s something that we want to spread.”
Webster students can receive a 10% discount from the restaurant’s menu prices when they bring a valid student ID. Hardesty said that the discount is offered to all students, faculty, service members and first responders.
“We’ve always gone to campuses… We know that’s where it all starts,” Crespo said. “It’s the first time you’re out on your own and you can eat whatever you want you can go wherever you want and that’s kind of where you build those relationships.”
Crespo explained that offering a student discount was always something they planned to do. Having gone to college himself, he understands the burden of student loans and wanted to alleviate some of that burden. He also emphasized the importance of education to his family.
“My parents, from day one, they drilled it into our brains like education is really important,” Crespo said. “You can take away all these things from someone, but you can’t take away their knowledge.”
Students who go to Guerrilla Street Food will be able to try dishes from traditional Filipino cuisine, but with a contemporary American twist. Hardesty explained they chose to serve Filipino-inspired food because Crespo’s family is Filipino. Moreover, Hardesty noted that a Filipino inspired restaurant is fairly unique, in comparison to other restaurants in the St. Louis area.
“I thought that it would be an opportunity to spread the word of this delicious food and culture,” Hardesty said. “So, I started learning recipes and eating at his family picnics.”
However, Crespo said that while they do serve Filipino inspired food, it is important to remember that the Philippines consists of many different islands and hundreds of different recipes. Along with this, Crespo said some dishes, such as “the Flying Pig” are unique creations.
When asked how they would describe their food to people who have never tried Filipino food before, both Crespo and Hardesty used the phrase comfort food. Crespo said that while there may be names on the menu that people don’t recognize, their food isn’t all that different.
“It’s a lot of slow-cooked meats and stews and braises… usually served with rice,” Hardesty said, “It’s a very high contrast food so you have something very savory paired with something very sweet or very acidic.”
Rebecca Now, head of the Webster Groves-Shrewsbury- Rock Hill Area Chamber of Commerce and webster university senior, said she thinks Guerrilla Street Food will be well received by the community.
“We have many international food restaurants in our community,” Now said, “I think our community has a well developed and curious palate.”
On Jan. 16, Crespo and Hardesty were able to experience their first ceremonial ribbon-cutting as they celebrated the store’s opening. The event was sponsored by the Webster groves – Shrewsbury – Rock Hill Area Chamber of Commerce.
Now said she was excited for Guerrilla Street Food to come to Webster Groves.
“We have people who have put their personal fortunes into growing and developing our community, and that is something to honor.” Now said. “I am particularly excited that this is another restaurant because Webster Groves, in particular, is getting known for having a fantastic food scene.”
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Cas Waigand (she/her) is the editor-in-chief for the Journal. She is a major in journalism with minor in photography. Cas has covered COVID-19 and the 2020 general election, and enjoys writing, watching Netflix, crocheting and taking photos.