Philadelphia's 127-year-old Reading Terminal Market is one of the largest and oldest public markets in the US, and for the first time since 1893, a Filipino-owned restaurant has finally become part of its diverse roster of international restaurants.
Just last June, Tambayan opened its doors at the historic market, serving traditional Filipino food and baked goods. Filipino Americans from near and far have come to get a taste of home.
Tambayan is owned by Kathy Mirano who migrated to Philadelphia to chase her American dream. She shares her previous works include cleaning houses and taking care of old people. "One day, I walked down on Reading Terminal, looking for a job. Maybe I could find something a little better than cleaning houses," Mirano says.
For 21 years, she worked at a gyro restaurant as a server before she was laid off from her job as a manager during the Covid-19 pandemic. "Nawalan ako ng work for almost 6 to 8 months, so I decided to make a business online (I lost my job for almost 6-8 months, so I decided to make a business online)."
Mirano says she started with making ube, ube cakes, and French macarons. After turning her baking skills into a lucrative online business, she was fired up to take it one step further: to put up a Filipino restaurant where no Filipino restaurateur has gone before. She knows what it's like to work hard and never give up, being an ultramarathon runner herself. So Mirano pursued Reading Market's tough board of directors and sent them a business proposal for a Filipino restaurant.
"It's not easy to come in at Reading Terminal Market, one of the historic buildings in Philadelphia. But I had a chance to do it. The board members love my proposal... so that's it from there."
In just 8 months, the board gave her the go-signal to open Tambayan. Today, it's among Philadelphia's hottest new restaurants according to Eater Philly.