WESTERN SPRINGS – For busy families looking for a healthy, home-cooked meal but don’t want to spend time in the kitchen, there’s a new option near the Western Springs Metra station. Salty Fig Kitchen + Pantry is a three-concept business that has a sit-down restaurant, coffee bar and bakery, and grab-and-go kitchen.
Salty Fig opened in January but held its official ribbon cutting May 23. Chef Suzanne Florek, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Anthony, described the menu as “rustic new American” and said the goal of the business is to be a kitchen and not just a restaurant.
“Western Springs needed a place like this,” she said. “I wanted to open a place where people could come several times a week and eat a variety of healthy food and feel good about their meal. I want to help people feed their families during the week.”
Salty Fig is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Monday through Friday and also has a full bar. The menu is wide and varied, catering to many different tastes.
Florek created the menu using her own recipes and said the buttermilk pancakes and egg sandwiches are some of the most popular breakfast items, while the chicken kabob, cured salmon salad and mushroom soup are all hot sellers at lunch and dinner.
“Everything sells, it just depends on people’s moods,” Florek said. “We’re a 100-percent made-from-scratch kitchen. I enjoy cooking seafood and vegetables because they’re healthy and an open canvas so you can put different fresh ingredients together.”
Manager Gwen Bry said business has been very good since it opened, and she thinks it’s been so popular because of the variety on the menu.
“You can just get coffee or a scone, sit down with a date or bring the whole family,” she said. “People love it here. Everyone raves about how much the community needed this and how much they enjoy it. It’s a very high-energy atmosphere. Every day we see regular customers and new faces.”
The business recently added “Bring Back Meals,” which allow customers to pre-order a meal by 5 p.m. the night before and pick it up between 3 and 7 p.m. the next day. The menu is different each night, and it changes weekly. Florek said that feature makes her business unique.
“I would’ve liked a place like this when I was raising my kids. It’s a very convenient option for families,” she said. “We’re multi-concept, and I want to build a fabulous food community in Western Springs. We want to make this community better.”
Marty Scott, director of community development for Western Springs, said Salty Fig is a great addition to the downtown area that fills a void in the restaurant community.
“Over the past few years, there have been several restaurants added to the downtown, but Salty Fig is unique as far as the menu and atmosphere. It has an urban vibe in the suburbs,” he said. “The time, energy and money that Suzanne and Anthony have invested have not gone unnoticed. There’s a great buzz around town about the food.”
Florek, who grew up out of state but has lived in Western Springs for more than 25 years, always knew she wanted to be a chef. She worked at restaurants since she was 15, but this is her first time owning her own business.
Florek didn’t want to work in the industry while raising her three sons, but after her youngest child graduated from college, she said the time was right. However, Salty Fig is closed on weekends so Florek can spend time with her family, she said.
“I work 16 hours a day, five days a week. I want to stay married and enjoy my weekends,” Florek said. “This is definitely a big endeavor, and it’s a lot of work. But I fulfilled a dream.”
If you go
WHAT: Salty Fig Kitchen + Pantry
HOURS: 5:30 a.m. to final seating at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 5:30 a.m. to final seating at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday
WHERE: 909 Burlington Ave., Western Springs