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Open & Shut: A Filipino-Hawaiian diner expands, an activewear boutique closes, and 2 restaurants reopen as the pandemic eases

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This is an installment of an occasional series in the Anchorage Daily News taking a quick look at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to newstips@adn.com, with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.

Jeepney Filipino Hawaiian Fusion Food: The COVID-19 pandemic that hurt many restaurants actually helped this diner grow.

Before the pandemic, Jeepney Filipino Hawaiian Fusion Food served its sweet and spicy dishes out of food trucks.

But the shutdown of public events for the last year eliminated the venues where the food trucks found their customers.

So in June, the family-owned operation opened their first dine-in location in Anchorage, in a strip mall at 9191 Old Seward Highway.

In February, they opened a second brick-and-mortar location at the commissary at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Next month, Jeepney plans to open a third Anchorage restaurant, in the former home of Alleyway Grille at the corner of Arctic Boulevard and Fireweed Lane.

“It’s been a blessing we have been able to open three brick-and-mortar restaurants in a time like this,” said co-owner Donna Manalo.

Named after the Philippines’ colorful public buses, Jeepney originally became known for its nachos, burritos and fries that fuse Mexican and Filipino flavors, Manalo said.

Manalo, of Hawaiian origin, added influences like Hawaiian barbecue grilled chicken or ribs.

Manalo said Jeepney’s original goal was introducing more Alaskans to Filipino food. The business started with just her and her husband, Jerry Manalo, originally from the Philippines. They now employ about 25 people, she said.

This summer, Jeepney also plans to continue operating its food trucks as much as possible, she said.

“We want to employ at least 15 more people,” she said.

Cafecito Bonito: This coffee shop with a Latin American twist opened in mid-April in the Russian Jack Plaza near the Hacienda Mexican Restaurant.

In addition to commonly found drinks like slow-brewed coffees and mochas, Cafecito Bonito serves horchata lattes, based on the traditional sweet rice milk drinks popular in Mexico. You can also find Spanish lattes, espressos that include condensed milk. There’s also the cafecito, a traditional Cuban coffee.

Estrella Rodriguez-Northcutt owns Cafecito Bonito at 6307 DeBarr Road. Photographed on April 20, 2021. (Marc Lester / ADN)

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