Michelle Domingo says her Stockton restaurant is the first to sell Filipino empanadas in the U.S.
STOCKTON, California — Michelle Domingo has always had a passion for cooking.
When she emigrated to the United States in 2015, she brought her family recipe for Filipino empanadas with her.
“This is a very famous food in the Philippines. Everybody is craving for it,” said Domingo.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she decided to set aside her career as a critical care unit nurse to be home and keep her children safe.
Her husband is also a nurse, so he kept working.
“While staying home with the kids, I was thinking how could I help my husband to make ends meet,” she said.
That’s when she started cooking for family and friends and was encouraged to follow her passion.
“‘This is really a food we can’t find anywhere,'” Domingo said she was told.
So, last summer she took her empanadas to a festival in Tracy.
According to her, in two hours she sold out.
“That’s when I realized and saw the potential of the business,” Domingo said.
Friday, her idea became a reality. She held the grand opening of her fast food restaurant in the Weberstown Mall in Stockton.
It came complete with a ribbon-cutting thanks to the Stockton Chamber of Commerce.
Called “Delish Cravings by Michelle,” it offers four kinds of empanadas as well specialty Korean corn dogs.
Right now, she has two employees and five of her family members helping out.
She even has reserved a glass case upfront for area desert makers to sell their treats.
“We made it through the pandemic. A lot of restaurants were affected very badly. They had a hard time. Some of them closed. But, now we are seeing coming out of the pandemic new businesses are opening. We’re here to celebrate new business and really make sure that they thrive,” said Timm Quinn, CEO of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce.
On hand at the grand opening was Ella Holman, a local realtor who is now a new fan of Michelle’s empanadas.
“The crispiness of it and the texture and the filling is just very tasty,” Holman said.
So what’s next for Domingo?
She wants to create a chain of Delish stores everywhere.
So perhaps one day, Filipino empanadas will be rolling out to a neighborhood near you.