NoLibs Largest Restaurant, Figo Opens This Week and Will Give Away Free Pizza For Its Grand Opening - Wooder Ice
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NoLibs Largest Restaurant, Figo Opens This Week and Will Give Away Free Pizza For Its Grand Opening

figo northern liberties

Local Scoop

NoLibs Largest Restaurant, Figo Opens This Week and Will Give Away Free Pizza For Its Grand Opening

Feature Image via Eddy Marenco

NoLibs Largest Restaurant, Figo Opens This Week and Will Give Away Free Pizza For Its Grand Opening

Glu Hospitality and partners Derek Gibbons and Tim Lu announce the grand opening of Figo Ristorante and Figo Pizzeria this Friday, October 15th at 1033 N. 2nd Street. The two side-by-side restaurants will debut in the heart of the Northern Liberties Restaurant Row, in the former home of Darling’s Diner and Wahlburgers, next to the Piazza. When opened, Figo will be the largest restaurant in the Northern Liberties Business Improvement District, offering nearly 10,000 square feet of space and 250+ seats. Figo Ristorante will be a full service restaurant, kitchen, bar and outdoor patio offering Italian cuisine by Chef Hee “Chino” Chang, with craft cocktails, espresso martini flights, Italian soda flights, two dozen taps, and over two dozen wines by the glass, bottle and flight.

Opening services will include dinner, indoor dining, outdoor dining, delivery and take-out, with late night, happy hour and brunch service to be launched later in the fall. Next door, at the North end of the property, Figo Pizzeria will offer pizza pies and stuffed hoagies with lunch, mid-day and dinner service, with cafe seating outside and take-out/pick-up and delivery. A smaller artisanal version of the Figo pizzas will be offered in 12 inch size on the dine-in menu next door at Figo Ristorante. Figo Pizzeria will be open six days a week to start, from Tuesday to Sunday, from Noon to 10:00pm. Figo Ristorante will be open six days a week to start, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 5:00pm to 10:00pm. For the grand opening, Figo will give away free pizza slices on Friday, one per person, between 11:30am and 1:30pm. .

THE VISION

Figo will focus on quality, fresh ingredients, unforgettable hospitality and Instagrammable moments. In a world that operates on hyper speed and in a time when people have become less connected, Figo is an attempt to infuse Old World Italian dining tradition with a modern aesthetic. Taking the time to be guided by the service staff, Figo’s mission is to curate a dining experience like none other – truly harnessing what it means to be “cool” (the meaning of Figo in Italian). Being relaxed, informed, and satiated with all intentions of returning as a guest again is the inspiration behind Figo.

THE CONCEPTS

The spark for the idea for Figo came shortly after Glu pivoted with Germantown Garden Grille. As Glu transitioned during the pandemic from nightlife to eateries and restaurants, the idea was born to create a series of ghost kitchens, including Figo Pizzeria.

Originally operating out of the giant oversized kitchen at Germantown Garden and Vesper Dayclub, Figo was first a pizzeria serving the immediate neighborhoods of Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Kenstington. As Figo Pizzeria grew in popularity, Glu continued to expand its food-focused offerings and expand the menus at existing properties. At Germantown Garden and Germantown Garden Grille, Chef and Glu continued to perfect larger menus featuring pastas, steaks, salads, seafood, sandwiches and other dishes. Glu wanted to take the lessons learned from the pivots, combine them with their new virtual restaurant brand, and bring a niche of restaurant that didn’t already exist in Northern Liberties.
Glu then brokered a deal to take over 1033 N. 2nd Street, and Glu designed two concepts that could exist and compliment each other side-by-side. Glu expanded and redesigned the use of the outdoor space surrounding the entire property, perfected a new layout and configuration for the outdoor bar and patio to the South facing the Piazza, and reconfigured the North side of the property that came with its own entrance and sidewalk space.

The out-of-the-box idea received an added boost when Glu launched its first fast-casual eatery, Bagels and Co., in June of this year. After Bagels and Co. was a runaway success, Glu solidified plans for the launch of the brick-and-mortar fast casual eatery Figo Pizzeria, and they moved full steam ahead with the elevated and beautiful vision they had for Figo Ristorante. For the Northern Liberties, Fishtown and Kensington residents nearby, and the 20,000 new residents about to move in over the next two years, Glu hopes Figo will be a win-win for all.

Figo brings new life into a large, shuttered vacant property. The new restaurants will light up the largest and most visible restaurant corner in Northern Liberties Restaurant Row, with high visibility as the very first restaurant drivers see when coming down N. 2nd Street from Girard.

The new restaurants will occupy nearly 10,000 square feet of space, with 5,000+ square feet inside and nearly 5,000 square feet outside, with seating for 250+ people.

For job creation, Figo will create upwards of 75 jobs in the marketplace.

FIGO RISTORANTE – FINE DININGFigo Ristorante is an elevated full-service Italian restaurant, bar and outdoor patio that pays homage to handmade cuisine, Italian favorites, craft cocktails and a well curated wine list.

“Taking inspiration from our Italian namesake Figo (or cool in Italian) we encourage our guests to slow down while we unite the tradition of Italian dining with the social scene of the area,” said Gibbons. “Join us for distinctive features such as a customizable Italian soda platter and sophisticated craft cocktails. After indulging in our libations, guests are invited to explore our food menu rich with complex flavors that harness the sensation of a home cooked meal.”

For the menu, Figo is a classic and decadent Italian restaurant with modern influences. Chef Chino brings the familiarity and tradition of Italian cuisine to Northern Liberties. Each dish is made with the freshest ingredients and encompasses the building blocks of the culinary arts. Salt, fat, acid and heat can be tasted and experienced in every dish on the menu. Figo is a culinary driven restaurant before anything else and the menu and dining experience reflects that philosophy. Everything will be made and prepped in house from the sides, to some pastas and the desserts (with the exception of top quality breads from Liscio’s). The menu features vegan options, and several dishes can be made gluten-free. For vegetarian options, guests can enjoy Seasonal Bruschetta, Zucchini Fries, Burrata, Shoestring Fries, Caprese, Figo Salad, Caesar Salad, Amorini & Mushroom Gorgonzola, Angel Hair Pomodoro and more.

At the bar, Glu Director of Beverages Ryan Fenton has designed a menu that features 24 wine variants that range from white to sparkling to red, by the glass, bottle and flight. Fenton and his team also will offer 16 beers on draft, espresso cocktail flights, soda flights, mocktails and craft signature cocktails.
For the wine program, expert knowledge and wine tasting is at the heart of Figo. Servers and bartenders have extensive wine and cocktail knowledge that will guide guests, enhancing their dining experience. Wine will be offered in three different pours allowing the guests to push the boundaries of their wine preferences. Old world meets new world with our traditional- yet eclectic wine selections. For beers, the opening menu will feature 16 different beers on draft, with highlights including Peroni the classic Italian lager, Pizza Boy Apricot Smasher, and Sierra Nevada Sour.

Figo’s libations menu is sophisticated yet approachable. Each cocktail pays homage to the classic drinks everyone knows and loves. Figo’s customizable Italian soda tray with house made simple syrups that will be the new star of guest’s Instagram story!  The Italian sodas can be made with spirits, or they can be made spirit-free as mocktails.

Notable cocktails will include House Spritz ( Tanqueray, vermentino, strawberry basil syrup, lemon, sparkling water), Corrina Corrina (hornitos reposado, Aperol, cinnamon-agave, grapefruit, lime), and Salvezza ( grappa Bianca, Peroni, fresh strawberry, ginger syrup, lime). FIgo will also offer two frozen cocktails, a Frozen Espresso martini and a frozen orange spritzer. For early best sellers, espresso cocktails and flights have been the single most popular item on the bar menus.

For layout, look for over 250 seats, including 80 inside and 170+ outside. Inside, look for 16 seats at the bar, and the balance of seats in twos, fours and a Chef’s table of eight. Outside, Figo boasts expansive and beautiful sidewalk, cafe and outdoor bar seating – with a giant outdoor covered bar, lush plants and flowers, blooming trees and giant signature red umbrellas to block out the elements. Figo already comes ready for Sweater Weather with top-of-the-line heat lamps to heat up those autumn nights.
For vibes, Figo aims to harness the traditional Italian dining culture with the modern Philadelphia eatery scene. With sleek copper elements and a warm earthy color palette, Figo looks to envelope guests in warmth and sophistication. When guests step into the dining room they will pass through green-style walls that feature the gentle twinkle of pops of light from underneath. They will see hand-made wine racks, tufted leather booths, and amber edison bulb lighting.
Gibbons said, “We want to provide a decadent, sophisticated, and romantic atmosphere for our guests – all the while striking a balance between high energy and relaxation. We want our guests to revel in every aspect of their experience. Copper and deep stained woods add to the savory undertones of our restaurant. Amber lighting embraces our diners in a romantic hue that relaxes them as they begin their culinary journey. Our designer John Christinzio helped to bring our vision fruition.”
He continued, “All of our design elements have a sophistication to them that elevates the guests’ experience. Everything from our china, to the flatware, glassware and other accoutrements have been hand picked to facilitate a clear energy for our guests and staff. Chef Chino prepares the food in a way that is not only delicious to eat but decadent on the eyes. The aesthetics of our restaurant are clear and present in every aspect, people will have no problem snapping beautiful photos of our offerings and sharing them with friends, family, and social media alike. The mahogany wood elements throughout our dining room combined with our copper details creates a warm environment and an essentially blank canvas that allows the colors of the fresh food and cocktails to pop.”
For sports viewing, Figo comes complete with indoor and outdoor 60-64 inch HD televisions for Eagles and football season, Phillies games and much more.

Figo Ristorante will launch with dinner, drinks, bar, patio, indoor, outdoor, take-out, delivery and special events. Opening hours and days are Tuesday to Sunday, from 5:00pm to 10:00pm.FIGO PIZZERIA

Figo Pizzeria will bring a brand-new fast casual pizza and hoagie shop to N. 2nd Street, catering by day to the construction workers, hospital staff, co-working residents and office workers at Seer and surrounding buildings. By night, Figo Pizzeria will be a welcome addition to the food scene, with smartly priced and accessible pizza and sandwiches that are perfect for grab and go on the way home from work, and for delivery when you want to spend the night in.

The starting menu will feature a half dozen pies to start, with additional pies to be added later in the fall. Additionally, Figo Pizzeria will offer pizza and hoagie specials weekly and monthly, that will be shared and announced on social media.

Figo Pizzeria will launch with lunch, mid-day and dinner service, with take-out, delivery and self-serve cafe seating outside. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, from Noon to 10:00pm.

Glu Hospitality wants to thank the neighborhood and city for all the support during the pandemic. As a thank you, and to celebrate the grand opening, Glu will give away free slices this Friday, October 15, 2021, from 11:30am to 1:30pm. One slice per person. Varieties will vary during the two hours. Additional slices and non-alcoholic cooler beverages will be on special during these hours for only $2.00 each.

CHEF HEE CHINO CHANGChef Chino has worked with Glu Hospitality as the culinary director for many years. He has formed a partnership and friendship with Tim Lu, Derrick Gibbons and the rest of the Glu Hospitality group.

Hee “Chino” Chang was born in South Korea and raised there for the first eight years of his life. From South Korea his family moved into Pennsylvania where he started his career in line-level hospitality as a bus-boy at Chi-Chi’s at the age of sixteen. Chang then was accepted at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and immediately after went to and graduated from The Restaurant School in West Philadelphia. From there, Chang worked at a restaurant in center city called, The Pleasant Peasant. The Pleasant Peasant, now closed, was a high-end southern Asian cuisine focused establishment that opened other locations in Atlanta, GA as well. After one year of being a line-cook there the corporation moved Chang to Buckhead in Atlanta to train their new kitchen employees in a more casual concept called Mick’s. After three full years with that company Chang was recruited by Dean Vlahos owner of then Champ’s Restaurant corporation and later Redstone Restaurant as well. Champs was Chang’s first executive chef position and he was with Champ’s Corporate for five years where he also adopted the nickname, Chino, which he goes by today.

New York City screams massive venues and now that Hee Chang (Chino) has made quite the name for himself, Vanderbilt Catering and South Fin Grill specializing in seafood wanted him to be their Executive Chef, and for three years that’s exactly what he did.
From there, he received a phone call from his old friend, Dean Vlahos to tell him about Redstone and the opportunity for Chino to be the Regional Executive Chef, something most chefs can only dream of. The producer’s for Hell’s Kitchen frequently ate at Redstone and told Chino many times that he should work for Gordon Ramsey, and they were correct. After packing up on the east coast and moving to California, Chino was exceeding all expectations when suddenly, his Father fell ill six months into this position. Chino’s father eventually passed away and he made a decision to stay where his family was. Brent Celek (former Philadelphia Eagles Player) in his rookie years, ate at Redstone every Friday and loved Chino’s food. He wanted to start his own restaurant and wanted Chino to be his partner.

From there, Prime Stache in Old City, Philadelphia was opened and then Bop back in the same area of Chino’s first line cook position. After six years and partnership turned to friendship with Brent Celek, mutual friends introduced Chino to Tim Lu. Tim and Chino started one, two, three and so-on concepts together including trademarking a delicious chicken burger as, “philly, philly,” the famous call that helped The Philadelphia Eagles win Superbowl 52. Today, Hee Chang is the Director of Culinary for GLU Hospitality and has been with Lu now for three years with only plans of more food concepts and exponential growth for the future.

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