Joel Crespo, Brian Hardesty and Guerilla Street Food were the first food trucks to open in St. Louis in 2011. There were also very few restaurants that served Filipino cuisine in St. Louis.
Guerilla Street Food expanded its offerings to four brick-and mortar locations in January 2020 with the opening of its Webster Groves storefront. 2nd Shift Brewing also had a stand inside their tasting room. My STL 100 ranked it as No. 1 for Filipino-American food. 15 in 2018.
Guerilla Street Foods
Crespo and Hardesty were confronted with a reckoning even before the March pandemic. Guerilla Streetfood’s scale — the number of ingredients required for multiple locations and the desire to keep costs low — was staggering.
Hardesty states, “It just kinda steered us into a direction we didn’t even know was there until it was too far gone.” We didn’t serve any local ingredients. It was difficult to find the right ingredients in a particular location. This was all just a matter of taste.
In 2019, the Guerilla street food stands at Tropical Liqueurs and Two Plumbers Brewery in St. Charles, had already been closed. Crespo and Hardesty closed down the Tower Grove East and Maryland Heights storefronts last February. Seven months later, the Delmar Loop location and 2nd Shift Brewing stand were shut down.
There is currently only Guerilla Street Food in Webster Groves, as well as the truck. But Hardesty, Crespo, and chef Brett Becker Candy Charms have recommitted themselves to using fresh, local foods. When I interviewed them in March, they were both positive about the state the restaurant was in.
Hardesty states that “we’ve completely refocused our menu and our service level.” “And frankly, pandemic-wise cutting out our dining room (service) allowed us to do that even more, since now it’s 100% focused on the food, and then safely serving it.”
Guerilla Street Food is now back in its roots as a food truck. He said that he and Hardesty were reminiscing about the time when they first started Guerilla Street Food as a food truck. They would go to the markets and see what is available and then come up with new menu items. This was also because of how they were working with local farmers and vendors.
Crespo says Guerilla Street Food was part of an international “explosion” in Filipino restaurants, food trucks, and pop-ups over a decade.
He says, “That made us want to support that cause and that movement for Filipino cuisine.”
Crespo and Hardesty visited the Philippines in 2017, and were inspired by the night market experiences there, they hosted two Filipino Night Markets. There, they featured cooking demonstrations from chefs from other cities. There were plans for more pop-ups, collaborations, and travel.