Meet the married duo behind the Fattened Caf
When Charlene Lopez Young moved to St. Louis to be with Darren Young in 2014, she saw an opportunity to introduce authentic Filipino cuisine to the city’s barbecue scene.
“I wanted to share my culture in the food scene in any way, and I was really big on, ‘We're keeping it the way that I remember the flavors, the way that I grew up eating it — and if people like it, cool, and if they don't, well then this isn't for you.’”
In 2020, after years of cooking large Filipino feasts for their friends, the married duo started the Fattened Caf, a Filipino barbecue pop-up with a residency at Earthbound Beer on Cherokee Street.
“The Fattened Caf was birthed out of our backyard, dinner parties, game nights, inviting friends over, and then we got into doing pop-ups — [and] when people line up for your food and you're selling out, we knew we had something special.”
It’s since grown hugely popular. And with new funding from a recent Arch Grants award, the Fattened Caf is set to expand its reach.
“We’re working towards building something for our family — something that not only represents half of who they are as Filipino Americans, but who they are entirely from their dad's values, and his identity, to mine,” Lopez Young said. “The $75,000 really helps us get there. It affirms what we're doing, that's for sure. But really, it helps us be who we want to be — not just in St. Louis, but for our family.”
Lopez and Young joined Monday’s St. Louis on the Air to discuss what’s special about Filipino cuisine, how they launched their business and where they hope to go in the future.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to firstname.lastname@example.org.