May 28, 2020

Fig's Breakfast and Lunch

Fresh (and increasingly famous) family food in Lake Leelanau
By Danielle Horvath | Sept. 7, 2019

“The Figs,” as Jaimee and Bryon Figueroa are affectionately called, have been working in the restaurant business since they were old enough to get work permits. Their new venture, Fig's Breakfast and Lunch in Lake Leelanau, reflects everything they’ve learned along the way — plus a little more via a sudden crash course.

“We always dreamt we would have our own place — we didn’t know it would come as quick as it did,” said Jaimee Figueroa.

Bryon Figueroa, who had spent time in the kitchens of Otsego Club & Resort and Treetops Resort, both in Gaylord, had long wanted more opportunities to grow as a chef. He went looking for a change a few years ago, interviewing at restaurants from Bay Harbor to Holland, eventually nabbing a chef position at the Blue Bird in Leland. He next added wine dinners for Old Mission Peninsula’s Chateau Chantal to his resume.

Then, a turning point came when the couple least expected it. Bryon Figueroa took a summer job at The Redheads Café and Tasting Room, a petite and long-beloved roadside eatery in the tiny hamlet of Lake Leelanau. The red-headed sister owners, who had originally opened the space in 1997 as Kejara’s Bridge, decided in 2017 to focus on the distribution of their The Redheads-brand products — hummus, granola, organic tofu veggie or black bean burgers, granola, etc. They offered to lease the space to Brian and Jamiee.

The couple, who met working in a restaurant, leapt at the chance to run their own together.
“We knew it would be very time consuming, and we would have to arrange it to fit our family,” said Jamiee Figueroa. (The couple has four children, age eight months to 14 years.) But as it turns out, shaping a restaurant business to suit their family’s needs wasn’t an obstacle; it helped make Fig’s the success it is.

“We dine out a lot and have a big family,” said Jamiee Figueroa. “We wanted quality food in a casual atmosphere that was small and cozy. The menu comes from Brian having a vision for locally sourced, fresh food — the food we like to eat. He wants to use every seasonal flavor he can.”

If the family palate was important, family time was critical. The couple decided to focus on serving breakfast and lunch only — no dinner service. “We have young kids. It works for us with our family to have nights off,” said Jaimee Figueroa.

Bryon Figueroa admitted the earlier schedule and menu was a departure from what he’s known, and he was nervous when they first opened. “I hadn’t been off a professional cooking line in 20 years, and breakfast was new to me,” he said. “That first week of July [when we opened], it took some building up of stamina, but it has been better than expected.”
Patrons would likely agree. Because its driven by fresh and local foods, the menu changes often — almost daily in the summer. In spring, dishes might include fresh strawberries and asparagus. When peaches are in, customers will find peaches and cream on the menu. As summer progresses to fall, dishes will reflect what is in season. They use local ingredients as far into the winter as they can.

“We can get to about April with our homemade hot sauce and pickled veggies. March brings new items that are not available locally, but those who stick out the winter with us get to try some more exotic dishes,” said Bryon Figueroa.

Recent breakfast choices included Fig’s sweet coconut French Toast, made using fresh Bay Bread, Guernsey cream egg batter, Michigan blueberries, Fig’s lemon curd, and toasted coconut; and the Fig’s Burrito, made with their own fresh ground sausage, scrambled eggs, cumin-dusted potato, organic pinto beans and Farm Country cheddar in a grilled El Milagro flour tortilla — served with Fluffy Bottom Farms cilantro yogurt and house-made hot sauce. Also a hit: Fig’s Sweet Veggie Hash is a burst of flavor in every bite, with sweet potato, Loma Farms greens, organic vegetables, two poached eggs or quinoa, and locally baked bread. All breakfasts run $7-12.

As for lunch, a variety of burgers could be on the menu at any given time, including the TNT burger —turkey meat, Fig’s Tasso ham, fried green tomato, pepper relish, greens, and chili aioli on a 9 Bean Rows brioche bun, served alongside Loma Farms’ roasted Bok choy. Other burger choices, $16, could include Yak, beef, or lamb.

Bryon Figueroa does all the meat butchering in-house and makes his own soup stock. For his popular Celery Corn Chowder, he adds roasted local corn, Loma Farms celery and Guernsey cream.  The pork taco uses a braised shoulder of Michigan-raised pork, jalapeno aioli, heirloom tomato salsa, and queso fresco on an El Milagro flour or corn tortilla, all served with marinated cucumbers.

To wet your whistle, there’s Higher Grounds coffee, Light of Day Organics tea, Michigan Hops Soda and Cold-pressed beet or carrot juice.

While customers no doubt credit The Figs’ energy, passion, and menu for bringing them back season after season, The Figs are quick to credit the loyalty and talent of the staff they have, which has returned as a full crew for the past three years. “One of our waitresses lives up the hill and walks to work, one of our dishwashers has been on the line since we opened,” said Bryon Figueroa. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

Find It: Fig’s is located at 202 W. Main St. in Lake Leelanau. It’s 8am to 2pm Wednesdays through Sundays, year-round. (231) 256-2222, or search Fig’s Breakfast & Lunch on Facebook.


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