Meet Derrick Ellis, co-owner of Lumpia World in Federal Way, WA, along with his wife Eleanor. Derrick was hooked on Eleanor’s perfectly golden and crispy lumpia after just one bite, and he knew others would feel the same way. The couple started Lumpia World in 2006 and have put everything into making great food that speaks for the passion they have for what they serve.

Pro-tip: Make sure to try some of their sweet lumpia for dessert!

Get to know more about Lumpia World in this week’s Business Spotlight Q&A.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How would you describe your business to someone who’s never been inside?
Our mission statement is that we don’t have customers, we only have family. When you come to see us, we want you to feel like family. That’s what this is about. And it ties right in to our cultural roots, which is the basis of the business. We’re Japanese, Chamorro, Filipino fusion and part of that culture is the island style, the family aspect. That’s what really made me want to be a part of this family. It’s just that togetherness — and that’s what we want people to feel when they come to see us and be able to taste through the dishes. . . . A lot of the fans normally hear me say, “Hey we’re just an extension of your kitchen.” I really mean that because there’s several choices for anyone. They could go get pizza, they could go get burgers, or whatever, but for someone to take the time . . . out of their day to come see us, we want to reward them with a wonderful experience. We want you to look at that plate and be like, “Man, that’s a lot of food.” And so that often copies over, with the aspects of family and love. We never want it to be transactional. It’s all about love and the food because we truly are blessed to be in the position to do what we do.

Why is it important that people support small businesses like yours?
When we were establishing [Lumpia World] we asked ourselves, how large do we want to do this and how do we do that without losing or digressing in the level of care that we want with each person that we come in contact with. Because that can happen. . . .  Because we had a little bit of that; we were trying to go too fast and we lost a little bit. We were blessed to kind of take a step back and say, “Hey, let’s slow this thing down.” Because that’s more important than the dollar at the end of the day. I think that a lot of small business owners kind of have that perspective. . . . There are several families or individuals that may not have all the resources needed. So they’re just going with what they have and that’s their story, and that’s kind of our story. We just started with what we had. We didn’t have any new equipment. We had little butane stoves just trying to keep up with the demand. You just do what works.  . . . And at the end of the dayI just feel that there’s just a different level of care [from small businesses]. And we’re more nestled in, in the community, and we’ve got our foot on the pulse as far as what’s going on in the community.

What are some of your favorite local businesses and what do you love about them?
There’s so many. Señor Tacos down the street from here,The guys and gals are super cool in there and you can feel the energy in there. They’re fantastic at what they do, the food is great, we like, we go to make sure we stand up. There’s Rogelio with A&J Auto Repair, we like to take our vehicles there when things need some work. Our kids go there and he’s so kind to educate my sons on ways to fix [their cars]. Even though he could do it, he’ll teach them. 

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