With its share of Asian markets, taco trucks, and nudie shops, White Center seems an unlikely locale for a Portuguese imports store and wine bar. But in such company, owner Tina Hemmons has designed her specialty mart Luso Food and Wine--stocked with Portuguese sundries, wines, meats, and other treats from the region--to be as hard-working as she.
With degrees in Health and Wellness and Law and Justice, Hemmons' shop was destined to be a multi-tasking one. But why White Center? Why Portugal? Hemmons' heritage stems from Goa, once a Portuguese colony in India, whose customs she loves and wants to share. She says, "I've lived in White Center for 22 years, and I've been happy here. White Center is a community, and I decided there's a lot of people who would enjoy the things I love--European specialty foods--right here without having to go to another neighborhood."
Part wellness-center, part Latin bistro, and part cultural oasis, Luso is the kind of place you end up leaving with more than you paid for, and Hemmons is eager to impart her wealth of knowledge--on everything from imported delicacies to White Center history--to her customers. Did you know that "Rat City," White Center's dubious nickname, is actually an acronym for WC's role in WWII as a "Reserve Army Training Center," "Recruitment and Training Center," and an area that was designated "Restricted Alcohol Territory?"
Hemmons' outgoing charisma and community-centric ways are proof in the pudding--or in this case Nata, a Portuguese custard tart--that you can learn a lot just by stopping in for a friendly chat with a local business owner. There's even a show happening tonight--David Brewer and Rebecca Lominicky--if you're in the neighborhood to take in the sights and sounds of one of White Center's newest and most ebullient properties.