Savoring Diversity: The Fattened Caf. and the Fusion of Filipino Cuisine on WashU’s Campus
The Fattened Caf. is one of four minority or woman-owned restaurants new to campus this year as an effort by University Dining Services to bring the St. Louis restaurant community to WashU.
Partnering with Starbucks and moving into Bytes Cafe in McKelvey Hall, The Fattened Caf. owners, Charlene and Darren Young, will sell authentic Filipino barbeque to students.
“[The owner of Coffeestamp] told us WashU was a really great community to be a part of, so when we were given the opportunity to apply to be in one of the locations that were opening up, we jumped right on it,” Charlene Young said. She also noted that “there was a pretty long weeding out process. We had to do samples of our food and a breakdown of what our money could look like. They really had to believe that our intentions were to serve the students.”
The restaurant began with a fusion of Darren’s barbequing talents and Charlene’s Filipino heritage. The Fattened Caf.’s menu was born out of family game night dining in 2017, and the owners have continued to use classic Filipino recipes from Charlene Young’s grandmother, as well as Filipino barbeque staples.
“I’m Filipino so I know what Filipino food tastes like. As a college student I looked for something that is reminiscent of home cooking. We make sure that we’re sourcing good jasmine rice because there’s a huge international population at WashU that is looking for good quality rice. With this inspiration my husband and I create the recipes ourselves,” Charlene Young said.
In addition to their restaurant and their products sold at Fresh Thyme and United Provisions, The Fattened Caf. team expressed their excitement to be at the University and to bring Filipino cuisine to WashU’s campus. They’ve begun integrating themselves already by hiring WashU Filipino students to work with the new establishment.
“The mission of The Fattened Caf. is to love food but to always love people more, and we love being a part of the communities that exist within St. Louis. WashU invites diverse populations and wants those populations to feel at home. That’s one of the things that we love to do. We love people more by providing quality food — giving food that nourishes the body, but also nourishes their souls in a way. We want our space to be a part of every single student that comes our way to be a part of their community,” Charlene Young said.
The Youngs have big aspirations to continue developing new recipes from their homes. They plan to create new special events and dishes to bring to campus.
“I’ve known Charlene for years. I personally am here to watch her succeed and watch her business grow as much as possible. I want to help make The Fattened Caf. as big as possible and if I can help be a hand in that, I will do my best to be perfect and help make it a home for everyone,” Director of Operations Vanessa Vera said.
The Youngs are looking forward to adapting and growing with student needs and cravings. “We are going to keep trying new things. We are going to have specials hopefully every month that caters to only chicken eaters or vegans and vegetarians. Especially during the winter, we’ll have soups and Filipino stews available. Definitely check us out. Our menu is consistent but there’s always something new that you’ll be able to get,” Young said.
For more restaurants near or on campus, check out: