The co-owner of a beloved Filipino restaurant in Oakland was shot and killed Wednesday night, jolting residents of his Fruitvale neighborhood and prompting an outpouring of grief from the Bay Area food scene.
Family and friends of Artgel “Jun” Anabo described the slain man as an anchor of Lucky Three Seven, a festive eatery that doubles as a community hub. Decked with murals, a jackpot motif and a traffic-stopping red facade, the restaurant is known for its G-fire chicken wings and “XL” lumpia, but also for handing out free meals and school supplies.
“He was a smart guy,” said Mark Legaspi, the other co-owner of Lucky Three Seven and Anabo’s cousin.
The two opened the restaurant nine years ago to “give back to this community,” Legaspi said outside the restaurant Thursday afternoon.
“I’m just hurt right now,” said Marcos Gamez, a longtime friend of Anabo’s, tears streaming down his face as he visited a makeshift memorial outside the restaurant Thursday morning, where passing motorists filled a table on the sidewalk with flowers and candles.
“He was a nice guy, always helping someone out,” Gamez said of the 39-year-old man he met decades ago, when they were both students at Wood Middle School in Alameda. Gamez lives near the restaurant and said that Anabo shouted for him to dial 911 when the shooting occurred, just after 9:40 p.m. Wednesday.
Police arrived after receiving an alert from the ShotSpotter gun detection system and found a man — later identified as Anabo — suffering from gunshot wounds on the 2800 block of Brookdale Avenue, Oakland police Officer Candace Keas said in a statement. After trying lifesaving measures, paramedics drove Anabo to Highland Hospital, where he died.
Family members say Anabo was standing on a street corner outside the restaurant, next to his 11-year-old son, when the gunfire erupted. Police could not immediately say whether the shooting was targeted or random. No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing.
Provided by Lucky Three Seven
Malinda Bun, Anabo’s girlfriend of three years, said she had been waiting for him to call and make dinner plans on Wednesday night. But when she grabbed her buzzing phone, Bun was shocked to hear a voice on the other end telling her the man she loved had been shot. It was not immediately clear whom she had spoken to.
She immediately headed to the restaurant and found him lying on the sidewalk, bleeding.
“This is so unreal,” Bun said Thursday morning. “We just talked about (having) kids yesterday.”
To Bun, Anabo had been a loyal partner, buying tables, chairs and supplies for her nearby Cambodian restaurant and taking care of everyone around him.
“He was the guy who was always there holding it down,” Alex Retodo, owner of the Lumpia Co., another Filipino restaurant in the city’s Uptown district, said Thursday morning. Retodo, a close friend of Legaspi’s, described Anabo as a bubbly day-to-day presence in the business while Legaspi went out to network.
Retodo last saw Anabo on Wednesday while the two were shopping at a wholesale market.
“We just saw each other doing our runs, and from a distance we gave each other that nod,” Retodo said. “We said, ‘Peace.’”
Hours later, after glimpsing a flood of social media posts about the shooting, Retodo sent Legaspi a text to ask whether everything was all right. Legaspi responded with the tragic news.
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Devastated, Retodo said he felt reluctant to open his own restaurant Thursday.
Representatives of Lucky Three Seven said in an Instagram message that they are “all kind of numb right now.”
“We have entered a time of uncertainty. And although Jun would want us to keep it moving and keep it pushing … we find ourselves lost without him,” the restaurant said in the Instagram post.
“(W)e are praying, crying, and hoping for any light,” they said.
The family restaurant along Fruitvale Avenue is known for drawing lines that snaked down the block, while hip-hop and R&B wafted from the kitchen stereo. It will be closed indefinitely, according to the restaurant’s Instagram post.
Jose Ortiz, owner of the Puerto Rican restaurant La Perla in the nearby Dimond District, spoke during an impromptu news conference outside Lucky Three Seven, urging city officials to take a more aggressive stance on crime against small businesses. Ortiz said his restaurant was robbed two weeks ago.
“We’re feeling the pain,” he lamented.
City Council Member Noel Gallo, whose district includes Fruitvale, praised Anabo as a community leader who lobbied for a crosswalk sign in front of his restaurant on Fruitvale Avenue to keep his customers and neighbors safe. Gallo said a young pedestrian was killed there years ago.
“What I really appreciated about Jun and Mark (the other co-owner) is that they contributed to the city a great deal,” Gallo said. “They were very active in the community.”
Jessica Flores (she/her) and Rachel Swan are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Twitter: @jesssmflores, @rachelswan