The Park's Finest
Since the COVID-19 crisis, communities and businesses faced uncertainty and fear. The Park’s Finest is a small mom and pop business that found purpose in feeding front liners while maintaining safe and meaningful employment. Through community support and sponsorship, The Park’s Finest has provided over 50,000 meals to medical facility personnel and firefighters throughout Los Angeles County. The faces and places documented during these historic months are presented with words and perspectives of Co-Owners Christine Araquel-Concordia and Johneric Concordia—community residents of Downtown Los Angeles, Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown—who utilized their upbringing in grassroots organizing to help guide and lead the “Feed the Frontliners Project,” the first of its kind in the nation.
Alongside their partners at Thunderbolt LA, a sister restaurant and bar adjacent to The Park’s Finest, Araquel-Concordia and Concordia have helped secure a haven on the northeast corner of Temple Street and Edgemont for the community to be fed, served and taken care of before the struggles of 2020 and will continue to do so once the nation defeats the deadly pandemic.
Raised in Long Beach, California, Christine Araquel-Concordia’s childhood was ingrained with ideals of community connection. From drives to downtown with her family for Temple Street festivals, to actions for equity with Filipino WWII veteran parades on Alvarado and anti-war marches along Wilshire Boulevard, Araguel-Concordia continues to actively engage in the growth of the Historic Filipinotown neighborhood while being present in the push for peace based on equitable justice.
Her time as a community organizer and program manager at People’s Community Organization for Reform and Empowerment (People’s CORE) tempered Araquel-Concordia’s work ethic as they worked on projects for youth leadership development while addressing issues of public health, environmental justice and elder abuse prevention. Araquel-Concordia’s role as a founding member of Kabataang maka-Bayan (Pro-People Youth) helped lead young activists to engage in political actions and coalition work to address institutional racism and end police brutality, to advance the collective fight for immigrant rights and to oppose U.S. wars of intervention in the Middle East and around the world.
With these experiences and life lessons as pillars of her perspective, Araquel-Concordia took on the task of applying progressive theories into community action and sustainability and co-founded a catering company called The Park’s Finest, now a local institution on Temple Street running 11 years in operation. Christine is the captain and lead organizer of the Feed the Frontliners Project-- a grassroots effort to provide free catered meals of American cuts of BBQ with a Filipino flavor to healthcare staff and firehouses working tirelessly during the COVID-19 crisis. Through the financial support of community sponsors, Araquel-Concordia’s with The Park’s Finest team promotes the project, books catering assignments, schedules team members, secures supplies, prepares meals and drives deliveries to units, departments and wards of frontline heroes throughout Los Angeles County.
Johneric Concordia is the chef and co-founder of The Park’s Finest, a Los Angeles-based restaurant in Echo Park, Historic Filipinotown. In his youth, Concordia participated in local non-profit programs and projects designed to prevent at-risk behavior and substance abuse and later engaged in various intergenerational community organizing efforts.
With the assistance of SIPA and the Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program, he started The Park’s Finest, a catering company, with local friends/family. The continued growing support of family and community fostered the opening of The Park's Finest brick and mortar in 2012. A year later, the restaurant was featured on the “L.A. Eats” episode of The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.
In 2017, Concordia hosted episodes of the Discovery Channel Asia’s Prison Food, a series that takes a chef into some of the world’s most notorious prisons to cook a meal behind bars, accompanied by volunteer kitchen staff who are inmates themselves. Since 2019, through a collaborative partnership, he serves as the executive chef of Thunderbolt, a new neighborhood restaurant offering Southern-inspired food and thoughtfully crafted cocktails on Temple Street.
During the pandemic, Concordia has been engaged with The Park’s Finest’s Feed the Frontliners Project daily operations feeding healthcare workers and fire station personnel throughout Los Angeles County. Next door, Thunderbolt has also executed a program offering free sponsored meals for out-of-work hospitality personnel.