Following two difficult years for the restaurant industry, things are already looking up for Philadelphia in 2022, as Amina Restaurant & Lounge is scheduled to open at 104 Chestnut Street in the city’s Old City neighborhood during the first quarter of the year. The 70-seat restaurant, owned by Felicia Wilson and helmed by Chef/Partner Darryl Harmon, will feature a menu reflecting Southern cuisine, which also utilizes African ingredients, and will be opening on Wednesday, May 18th at 5 p.m.
In what will be Wilson’s first restaurant, Amina will initially open offering only dinner service, with weekend brunch and lunch to follow shortly after launch. The restaurant will have a liquor license and a full bar as well, which will specialize in craft beers and cocktails made with locally distilled spirits, as well as wines from around the world.
The restaurant is named for Wilson’s daughter, Amina, and is inspired by an ancient warrior goddess of Nigeria. The interior will feature intimate, gold designs that represent that of an African female warrior, with African décor and themes throughout the space.
“I love trying new restaurants, and I’ve always wanted to operate one,” said Wilson, who has a background in social work. “Owning a restaurant has always been a goal of mine, and about eight months ago I decided to begin the process of pursuing it. I think we’re bringing something to Philly that the restaurant scene doesn’t have, so that’s very exciting for us, and we hope local foodies take to it after they see what we’re all about. We tapped Darryl Harmon to be our chef/partner and I’m certain that his skills and creativity will make Amina one of the best new restaurants to open in Philadelphia in 2022.”
Wilson, who lives in Cheltenham with her husband Shawn Bell and their four children, opened her first childcare center in 2008. She now has three, including two in Philadelphia and one in Willow Grove.
Harmon, who hails from Gouldtown, NJ in Cumberland County, which is considered the oldest black community in the U.S., is an award-winning chef in New York City. He previously served as the Executive Chef at the Water Works Restaurant in Philadelphia between 2007 and 2012.
The dinner menu will feature starters as Deviled Eggs; Black Eyed Pea Hummus; Peri Peri Wings; Jumbo Lump Crab Hush Puppies; Pan-Seared Scallops; Clams Casino; Cheesesteak Beignets; Buttermilk Biscuits; and Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread; a number of soups and salads; sandwiches including Nigerian Hot Chicken; Amina Dry-Aged Burger; Every Day Friendsgiving Turkey Burger; Southern Fried Whiting Fish’ and Shrimp Po’Boy Cheesesteak; and entrees including Smothered Turkey Wings; All-Natural Fried Chicken Bucket; Soft Pretzel Dusted Fish N’ Chips; NOLA Style Gumbo; Grilled Lamb T-Bone Steak Tower; Pan-Seared Salmon; and Southern Hot Fried Cauliflower. Starters range from $8 to $16, sandwiches from $15 to $20, and entrees range from $18 to $40.
“A lot of the dishes on this menu feature my own personal spice blends that I’ve put together, many of which include African spices and ingredients that focus on African cuisine,” said Harmon, who uses spices including fenugreek, bird’s eye chili, ground coriander and others in his food. “I’m very excited for this new chapter in my culinary career, and you wouldn’t know that this was Felicia’s first restaurant venture with how professional she and her team have been. I think Philadelphia is really going to love Amina.”