Believe it or not, people ask my team and me for our opinions all the time.
We get asked everything – recommendations for restaurants, plumbers, or where to get the best fitness gear. The “We HEART…” section of our blog is a resource guide of sorts featuring a business that my team and/or I frequent and “love” for one reason or another.
“Firinji” – It means “different” in multiple languages, including Persian, Indian, and Kenyan. That’s one of the first things I learned from Budo Bunul owner of Main Line restaurant, Firinji.
I had the chance to talk to Budo a few weeks ago at Firinji’s Merion location. He’s truly an amazing and inspiring man. He’s committed to giving back and supporting the community because “It makes me happy. I get to know so many amazing people.”
Before starting his first restaurant (he now has 3 locations in the area and provides food for the Ardmore Music Hall), Budo knew that he wanted his restaurant to be more than just a restaurant. He knew that he wanted it to be community driven and unique. From day one he decided that there would be no fryer in his restaurant, and that instead of the normal quick food fare he would serve food that was not processed or frozen, that was neither greasy nor fried. His restaurant would serve food that was fresh and unique.
Budo started Firinji in 2010 with the Ardmore location. It was important that his locations serve the neighborhoods that were close to where he lived. This again speaks to his commitment to community, a core value that he learned as a child growing up in Turkey.
Budo and his family lived in a rural community until he was 8-years-old. His grandmother would invite in, cook for, and serve any travelers who came to the door. She expected nothing in return – this is just the way things were done.
Political upheaval eventually forced Budo’s family off their land and they were displaced to the city, where they received tremendous support from the members of their new community. It seemed that everyone knew Budo’s family because they had shown kindness and hospitality to so many people. Those same people gave their support to the family, and they were able to build a successful business in their new town. It was this business that inspired Firinji.
Budo’s experiences in Turkey also served as the foundation for Firinji’s core values: community, sustainability, and well-being. Well-being is evident in the healthy foods that the restaurant serves. As far as sustainability, there is zero waste with food and the Ardmore location supplies power to a wind power company.
But that sustainability doesn’t just apply to being environmentally conscious. Budo has created a culture that people, particularly his employees, want to be a part of for the long haul. Usually there is high turn-over in the restaurant business, but most employees of Firinji have been a part of the team for 1 to 3 years.
So, I bet you’re wondering what the food is like. It’s fantastic! Internationally-inspired, locally sourced, fresh ingredients are what Firinji is all about. While the food has a Mediterranean feel, it’s not intended to be ethnic food from one culture. Much of the inspiration for dishes comes from Turkey, but according to Budo, he wouldn’t rule out adding dishes from other countries like Mexico.
Firinji is know for the Kumpir. This dish started as a street food brought to Turkey by European immigrants. It became so popular in Turkey that the country now has many Kumpir-based fast food chains. What’s a Kumpir you ask? According to the Firinji website it’s a “Hearty, baked potato mashed w/seasoning & cheese + bean medley served w/ red cabbage + tomato salad + cayenne & yogurt sauces”. Yum!
Other Firinji fare includes Kebabs, wraps, salads, soups, fresh-pressed fruit only juices, and Fruzi (100% fruit soft serve – no dairy, no ice, no sugar). Plenty of choices for the health-conscious diner!
Oh, I almost forgot. The Merion location has the BEST coffee on the Main Line, and the Bryn Mawr, Merion, and Ardmore locations have online ordering, pick-up, and delivery service.
Bonus – Performance Fitness clients receive a $5 gift card for the restaurant. Haven’t received yours yet? Call the office at 610-649-4900 and we’ll make sure to get one to you.
My advice – check out Firinji. You’ll get great food, great service, and you’ll be treated well, because as Budo says – “Every person is a stakeholder in the business. It’s your everyday place!”