Raffle Prize #1 for Neng Jr's
This month, help us raise money for two incredible projects happening at 701 Haywood Road in West Asheville, North Carolina. Different Wrld Headquarters is a hyper-inclusive hub devoted to inspiring, equipping and connecting burgeoning artists of all media. Neng Jr’s is a Filipinx restaurant, a project of memory, love, mutual aid and extraordinary food that could be the gateway for people who come for the food but stay to learn, be inspired, and maybe even join the community taking shape there.
About Neng Jr's: Silver’s vision is a soda shop like the one they grew up skateboarding to for Coke and chips in Apex, North Carolina. The soda shop with its counter and stationary stools evokes nostalgia, comfort, like you might just strike up a conversation with the diner who sits next to you, maybe help with a crossword puzzle answer. Silver wanted to make the food more personal and that means the Filipinx food like the Sinigang, Shanghai Lumpia, Pancit and Adobo BBQ chicken they grew up eating, in a menu format inspired by the South’s “meat and threes.” Neng is Silver’s mom’s nickname, and this enterprise, Neng Jr’s, is dedicated to her.
Silver sees Neng Jr’s as an expression of mutual aid: asking for financial help from the community that will, once the restaurant is built out, come to eat the dishes and learn the stories, be part of all the other great things that will happen in the space. They said, “At the forefront of both of our ventures we seek to uphold this space in its new iteration, with the legacy as a sanctuary to our community with our strong desires for equity and urgency to highlight our fellow BIPOC creatives, artists and chef friends alike. To me this is a space for us first, for our joy to translate into our work and funnel down to those who support us and our mission.”
The idea of opening a restaurant of their own never seemed like a possibility until first, they found out about this space and second, learning Different Wrld had rented the rest of it. Longtime admirers and supporters of one another and their vision, Different Wrld and Neng Jr’s truly are in this together, the first symbol of what they will accomplish together. For Silver, this means feeling compelled to both showcase Filipinx food in celebration of the strong connection they feel to the place of Neng’s birth, which is still home to many family members, and to create a healthy work environment for Neng Jr’s staff, one that will likely involve a high hourly wage so that employees don’t have to rely on tips. This could be particularly important for the restaurant’s first chapter, when covid safety measures will likely affect occupancy and many customers may gravitate to the pick-up window to get their meals to go.
More about your chef: Silver Cousler is a veteran of kitchens near (Gan Shan West, Buxton Hall, The Admiral, Bull and Beggar, Cucina 24) and far (Mission Chinese Food in Manhattan) and has done pop-ups everywhere from Asheville (thanks, Silver!) to Lil Deb’s Oasis in Hudson, New York, and until covid came along, served as chef in residence at Palm Heights in Grand Cayman.