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Artgel Fernando “Jun” Anabo Jr., the co-owner of one of Oakland’s most popular Filipino restaurants, was shot and killed last Wednesday night. He had been standing in front of the restaurant, Lucky Three Seven, with his 11-year-old son Kiah when gunfire erupted. Anabo died at Highland Hospital shortly thereafter. He was 39 years old.
Born and raised in Oakland, Anabo was a sound engineer by trade before getting into the restaurant business. He loved to blast hip-hop and throw big, rollicking block parties in the stretch of East Oakland where the restaurant’s bright-red facade is located, at the corner of Fruitvale and Brookdale avenues. Friends and family members describe him as an incredible father and a neighborhood fixture—the type of person who was always willing to lend a hand, who always put his Oakland community and Filipino community first. You’d rarely ever see him without a big smile on his face.
When I reviewed Lucky Three Seven a few months after it opened in 2013, I wrote that Anabo had “an easy swagger and a street-hawker’s gift of gab.” Over the years, every time I called to ask about some news about the restaurant, Anabo would say at least two or three things that made me laugh out loud. “What are you, a saint?” he blurted one time, when I told him he shouldn’t try to give me free food.
For several months, Anabo was mildly obsessed with the fact that he didn’t know what I looked like, since I’d only eaten at the restaurant as an anonymous critic. “Was that you? Were you just here?” he would text me out of the blue. “Did you just pick up an order of lumpia?”
Mark Legaspi, Anabo’s cousin and fellow Lucky Three Seven co-owner, says that was just the kind of energy that he always had. Anabo was the youngest in their group of cousins who grew up together, inseparable, in Oakland and Alameda. As a kid, he was a “jokester,” Legaspi says. A child of the ’80s, he loved The Karate Kid more than anything—he would dress up in a gi and imitate the karate moves from the movie.
Later, when they became partners at Lucky Three Seven, Legaspi was more involved with the cooking and recipe development, while Anabo handled the finances and business operations. The two would sometimes butt heads, as cousins do, but never argued for long. What Legaspi admired most was his cousin’s “crazy mind” and how well he worked with his hands—the way Anabo was able to MacGyver homemade designs for the restaurant, like its custom sound system, which he built using a car stereo.
Edward Wooley, a.k.a. Chef Smelly, says he met Anabo about six years ago. After seeing each other on Instagram for years, as part of the broader Oakland food community, Wooley finally stopped by Lucky Three Seven to introduce himself. “They accepted me as a brother,” Wooley says of Anabo and his crew. Every time he came by to pick up food, Anabo and Legaspi would sit him down inside the restaurant’s cramped interior and offer him a shot of Hennessy.
It would have been the same for me, if I’d ever had the chance to introduce myself to Anabo properly, Wooley tells me. He would have treated me like family too: “He’d say, ‘Come on in! Come have a shot! Do you want to smoke a blunt?’”
“He was just a nice, genuine dude,” Wooley says.
Anabo and Legaspi were also pioneers in the East Bay’s now-thriving Filipino food scene. The restaurant predated the current wave of trendy Filipino restaurants that have crossed over into mainstream popularity, bringing old-school “turo-turo” (or “point-point”) style steam table fare to a new audience.
“Lucky Three Seven became an introduction for Oakland to real Filipino food,” says Filipino American rapper Dustin “Nump” Perfetto, a close friend of Anabo’s. “It’s a big staple in The Town, and it really helped other Filipino brands get exposure.”
To this day, the restaurant is a place where purists can find a homey, genuinely pungent version of oxtail kare-kare, but it’s also where newcomers to the cuisine can enjoy crowd pleasers like the spicy G-Fire wings or the jumbo-size lumpia. It has always been a true neighborhood joint, beloved by folks of all different cultural backgrounds. (“I think Black people went there the most,” Wooley says.)
Much of the reason why the restaurant has been embraced by so many different communities had to do with Anabo—gregarious, charismatic, a man of the people.
“He was my ‘pare,’ my partner, a day-one supporter of anything I did,” says Perfetto, using the Tagalog term for a close male friend. “His love was so big; this boy had the biggest heart. I’ve never seen him not help another person.”
That’s why Anabo came up with the idea of having an entire day every year, right before Christmas, when Lucky Three Seven would give away free food to the community. It’s why the restaurant routinely collected donations of school supplies to give away to Oakland youth. And, Perfetto says, it’s also why Anabo would talk all the time about how much he wanted Filipinos and Filipino Americans to come together—“uniting so the culture could blow the fuck up.”
“He was for the hood, for the homies,” Perfetto says.
“’What does this business do for the people?’” says Evan Kidera, co-owner of the Filipino American fusion burrito spot Señor Sisig, who was close with both Anabo and Legaspi. “That’s how he lived his life.”
Co Pollard, who runs a barbecue and
For Pollard, that’s the deepest tragedy of Anabo’s death. “I’m just torn up for his son,” Pollard says. “The bond they had, everybody could see it. He was his best friend.”
Everyone who knew Anabo talked about how great of a dad he was, and how close the father and son were. “His son was with him, always. You knew his son was his world,” Señor Sisig’s Kidera says. “That’s the next level of heartbreak.”
Anabo’s family has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to provide for Kiah’s future, setting a target goal of $20,000. As of this posting, it has received more than $95,000 in donations.
For now, Lucky Three Seven has closed its doors as Anabo’s family members recover from the shock of his death. “We have entered a time of uncertainty,” the restaurant wrote in an
The restaurant remained closed over the weekend, with a small memorial for Anabo covered with flowers and candles set up in front. Meanwhile, the investigation into Anabo’s shooting is ongoing, and the Oakland Police Department has yet to make any arrests.
Legaspi, for his part, vows to honor his cousin’s memory by making Lucky Three Seven even bigger and better. “I’m going to make [Jun] proud,” Legaspi says. “I’m going to keep these doors open. And everything I make, it’s going to be with me and his son. So his son’s going to be taken care of.”
Alan Chazaro contributed reporting for this story.
Lucky Three Seven is located at 2868 Fruitvale Ave. in Oakland.