Behind Yordprom Coffee on Congress Street something tasty is taking shape. Figgy’s, a take-out spot featuring fried chicken, wings and high-end comfort food, is rising from the ground up.
“I grew up with fried chicken in Missouri,” said Figgy DiBenedetto, the brains behind the soon-to-open gourmet shack, originally called Skillet. “These are the kind of places we would go to every single day.”
The new Portlander, who moved here from the Hudson Valley in New York five years ago, wants to spread the love.
“Fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and take out for families and single people that live in the area,” is her goal with her full-service catering, lunch and dinner spot. “There is a huge walking population around here, we will have comforting, but healthy lunch and dinners.”
Chicken, cooked in peanut oil in cast iron pans (pictured above), is her signature. The former restaurateur who ran Mina, a fine-dining 40-seater in Red Hook, N.Y. and later a locally sourced diner in Milan, N.Y., fell in love with Portland’s eat beat. “I ate my way through Portland,” said DiBenedetto, who lives steps away from her new enterprise and happens to own the lot and building where Yordprom sits. “It was kind of a no-brainer.”
Initially planning to cater from home, Figgy was foiled by city rules. Soon she was taking measurements in the cafe parking lot and hiring contractors.
The 480-square-foot space is like a stationary food truck. Speaking of that, she wants to start a mobile catering business, the Chick Wagon, too.
Figgy’s will be the place to hit “when you get a hankering for a home cooked meal,” she said. There will be salads, homemade soups, turkey meatloaf, chicken pot pie, oh my! She may want to change the name to piggy’s. “New York City has all these little hole in the walls selling Korean wings,” said the Culinary Institute of America grad. But Portland, for all its pluses, does not.
Come spring Figgy will deep-double fry garlic soy and spicy ginger wings on the double. “I’ve perfected this coating so it cracks when you bite into them. Sooooo good.”
In the past year, her underground dinners have been a hit, but we are glad she is coming above ground with Figgy’s. Expect the enlivening smell of fried chicken and biscuits to fill the air in May. Now bring us the Figgy pudding!
In other catering news: Home Catering is taking over the short-lived and deeply loved Miyake Diner space on Spring Street in late-February. No shortage of party options in Portland. Cabin fever fete anyone?