Island Pacific opens on MLK in former Viet-Wah location

Amelda Orcejola handles seafood for a customer on February 24, 2016 at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Amelda Orcejola handles seafood for a customer at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)

Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired supermarket, has opened in the former spot of Viet-Wah Superfoods on MLK.

On any given day, you might be able to have adobo, sinigang or dinuguan from the turo turo deli, find vegetables popular in a variety of Asian dishes or select a fish on ice from one of the display tables — though you can’t pick the fish up yourself.

The location at 6040 Martin Luther King Way, known as the Empire Way Shopping Center, sat empty for almost four months after Viet-Wah Superfoods closed its Rainier Valley location after 15 years of operation.

In mid-December, Island Pacific Market, a grocery store chain catering to the Filipino- and Asian-American community, its first location outside the state of California, said regional manager Robert Gamboa.

Susan Caberto rings up a customer’s purchases on February 24, 2016 at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Susan Caberto rings up a customer’s purchases at Island Pacific Market. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Dayana and Sheyla Aguilar examine fish while their mother shops on February 18, 2016 at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Dayana and Sheyla Aguilar examine fish while their mother shops. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)

The grocery store’s doors first opened on Dec. 19 and community members were invited to a Grand Opening celebration on Feb. 8 — in time for Lunar New Year.

“Because this is the very first Island Pacific in the area, we felt that the Lunar New Year was the perfect time to mark our beginning in the Washington state,” said Hannah De Castro-Abinuman, a representative from Island Pacific Market’s corporate marketing department, via email.

Shoppers choose fruit at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Shoppers choose fruit. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Vanh Agni shops at the freezer section of Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Vanh Agni shops at the freezer section of Island Pacific Market. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)

The market currently employs about 75 people, said Seattle store manager Raffy Azeron, who moved locally from California to help with Island Pacific’s Seattle launch.

Despite Seattle’s rising rent prices — which forced Viet-Wah Superfoods out of the same location last August after 15 years of serving Rainier Valley — Island Pacific’s main goal is to provide access to affordable Filipino and Asian food to the country’s Filipino community, Castro-Abinuman said.

The store plans a “phase two” build-out, which will include general improvements to the store like more coolers, seafood aquariums, a bakery and vendor kiosks, Gamboa said.

Store manager Raffy Azeron poses for a portrait outside Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Store manager Raffy Azeron poses for a portrait outside Island Pacific Market. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
A boy waits for his parents as they shop at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
A boy waits for his parents as they shop. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Denaro Ancheta Madrid places seafood in his cart at Island Pacific Market, a Filipino-inspired grocery store in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
Denaro Ancheta Madrid places seafood in his cart. (Photo by Jovelle Tamayo.)
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