The diner on Cohoes’ Ontario Street has been a staple for the city’s residents and working-class people. Soon it will be home to Chris “Champ” and Cindy Peralta’s Chee-Bog restaurant. Chee-Bog is well known in the Capital Region for its pop-ups featuring Filipino cuisine.
Champ immigrated from the Philippines in 2013, He met his wife Cindy in Chicago in 2014. After the birth of their first child in 2018, they moved back to upstate New York to be near Cindy’s family.
During that time, Uncle John’s Diner ‘s diner was helmed by Jackie Reavey, her husband, “Uncle” John Reavey had passed away a few years prior. Jackie, with the help of a friend, kept the diner going. Jackie explained that the diner was John’s dream, but after his death in 2014 and the COVID 19 pandemic it became too much. While talking with New York Folklore Jackie reminisced about her years behind the counter:
“Some people just come in just to hear a voice sometimes, cause they live alone. There was always a lot of discussion … it was nice to encourage conversation back and forth. and I think they liked that, even if they didn’t agree.”
Jackie herself is a community scholar of sorts, she has been collecting photos, stories, and history about thediner, Cohoes, and her family, long times residents of the city. Chee-bog will be a primarily takeout set up inspired by Karinderyas, or small local eateries and food stalls found in the Philippines. In addition, they will honor Uncle John’s legacy as a gathering space through monthly events and traditional Filipino gatherings. The famous counter where countless meals have been eaten will be put on wheels. This will give Champ more space behind the counter and allow for the hosting of Boodle Fights (or Kamayan) – a communal feast where food is served on banana leaves and eaten without utensils. In addition, Champ will be serving Uncle John’s famous breakfast sandwiches, one of Jackie’s favorites to serve her customers.
Champ learned his arsenal of Filipino recipes from his mother and grandmother. Recipes like Lumpia (Filipino spring rolls), Adobo (Pork or chicken in a garlic, soy sauce marinade), Pancit (Rice Noodles), Lechon Kawalli (brined pork belly) are staples of the Chee-bog menu.
The diner is no stranger to immigrant cultures. Before Uncle John’s Diner, the restaurant went by the name of Edelweiss, and was owned by a German immigrant named Helen, who had a formidable reputation in Cohoes. Before Edelweiss, the diner was called Art’s Pourhouse. The history of the diner goes back further, to at least the 1920’s, but searches for more details by Jackie have turned up little.
You can learn more about Chee-Bog on their social channels https://www.facebook.com/cheebogtroy/
*Blog Photos are Courtesy of Chee-Bog