by Jae Siqueiros
The origin of Inday’s Restaurant started with a friendly neighborhood cookout 20 years ago after Ethel “Inday” Geiger emigrated from the Philippines to Chico.
Her deep craving for traditional Filipino meals was so persistent that she started preparing them at home with her husband, John Geiger.
Traditionally, Filipino homes have multiple generations living in a household. Adults often care for their aging parents while raising their own children. As a result, preparing large meals has been a regular occurrence for Inday Geiger.
To deal with hoards of leftovers, the Geigers started weekend neighborhood cookouts to share her culture, traditions and, most importantly, her food.
“All of our neighbors and their kids would hang out outside and eat my food and they would say ‘oh my god, you should sell this!’… and then a hobby became a job,” Inday said.
All the encouragement was just the motivation she needed to create a food truck, primarily for the Thursday Night Market in downtown Chico.
“The Filipino food truck was a real hit,” John said, and soon the couple felt pressure to open a more permanent space. That is when they decided to use their commercial kitchen on the corner of Eighth and Walnut streets to host a weekly Kamayan dinner.
“My wife covers the tables in banana leaves and you eat with your hands. It’s really something different,” said John, who is known to many Chicoans for operating the Crazy Dog hot dog cart at Ivy and West First streets next to Chico State for many years.
A Kamayan is a family-style dinner shared among family and community members. Sydney Young, a recent Chico State graduate, visits Inday’s with her friends whenever they get together for dinner. They attend the Kamayan dinners or the Thursday Night Market to get their Filipino food fix.
“The food is flavorful and savory,” Young said. “My mom cooked only Indonesian food while I was growing up and Inday’s is a very, very close second to the type of island food I’m accustomed to.”
Inday’s restaurant also serves as a hub of rare cuisine for organizations such as Chico State’s Filipino American Student Organization. In fact, the Geigers say their food helps bring the Chico community closer together over a plate of chicken skewers, vegetable pansit and seasoned jasmine rice.
Jae Siqueiros graduated this spring with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chico State. He wrote this article as part of a Tehama Group Communications team working with ChicoSol.