Located in the state-of-the-art Kiewit Luminarium, resides a café that simply feels different from all the rest. Bursting with radiant sunlight, fresh and flavorful recipes, and aromatic espresso indulgences, Fig. offers Omaha locals and pedestrians an exquisite dining experience, right on the Riverfront.
Fig. is the brainchild of the dynamic duo Clare Watson Bartolomei and Corina Figueroa who also founded Lola’s in Dundee with local baker Stephen Bartolomei. This innovative eatery is not just a restaurant; Fig. is an experience that blends art, science, and the rich flavors of locally sourced ingredients.
Figueroa and Watson Bartolomei were approached by Silva Raker, CEO of Kiewit Luminarium, prior to its opening. Raker explained she was impressed with the way Lola’s had activated the café space at Film Streams’ Dundee Theater and wanted that down at the Luminarium. Figueroa and Watson Bartolomei were interested in partnering again with a cultural non-profit.
While Lola’s and Fig. share the same culinary parentage, the siblings express themselves in unique ways. However, both establishments are grounded in a firm commitment to high-quality ingredients and a passion for scratch cooking.
Watson Bartolomei emphasized, “We follow a simple rule: if we wouldn’t serve it to our own children, we won’t serve it to the public. Quality and simplicity are at the core of what we do.”
At the heart of Fig.’s allure lies their fresh-made sourdough bread, baked bright and early each day. Lola’s bakery, which received a significant upgrade this year, now supplies all the baked goods offered at Fig.
Watson Bartolomei spoke with pride about this partnership, “It’s a family affair, and it allows us to maintain the same level of quality and care across both establishments.”
Gabriel Bon Sosa, Fig.’s decorated executive chef, embodies a passion for locally sourced ingredients that’s almost palpable.
“I really, really enjoy knowing where my food comes from.” Bon Sosa explained. “We take pride in using high-quality ingredients and supporting local farmers and businesses, and knowing where our food comes from creates a connection between us and our community.”
Through local distributors such as Lone Tree, Farm Table, and Morgan Ranch, Bon Sosa has fostered personal relationships with numerous farmers and ranchers across the state of Nebraska. He fields phone calls regularly from farmers, eager to tell him they have fresh cantaloupe available, and he even gets invited to their family cookouts.
Bon Sosa’s culinary philosophy is beautifully reflected in Fig’s menu. From their flavorful organic gluten-free oats used for the Baked Oatmeal to their carefully sourced meat and produce, every dish is a thoughtful testament to Fig.’s commitment to sustainability and flavor.
This care also extends to the children’s menu, although kids likely won’t know the difference. For their Schnitzel Strips, they source quality chicken from Redbird Farms that’s fresh and never frozen. Each chicken tender is hand breaded and plopped in a fryer that’s completely gluten free. Even the Sun Butter & Jam on Sourdough Pan de Mie, an elevated peanut butter and jelly sandwich, is made with Bon Sosa’s from-scratch jam.
“We want people to experience the difference in taste and nutrition that comes from choosing quality ingredients,” Bon Sosa remarked. “We source to support the local economy, but also just to make food that feels better when you eat it.”
The dedication on display at Fig. is further reflected in its name, which holds a three-fold meaning, intricately weaving together different aspects of the café’s origins. Firstly, it is a nod to Corina’s last name, adding a personal touch to the restaurant’s identity.
Secondly, the name draws inspiration from the scientific context of the museum, where “figure” or “fig.” is often used in textbooks to label illustrations. This connection is represented by the script style of the word, reminiscent of a scientific illustration, and is also reflected in the delicate, whimsical sketches in wallpaper surrounding the counter.
Thirdly, “Fig” pays tribute to the enchanting fruit itself—a magical, unique, and artistic symbol that brings beauty to the restaurant’s design and complements the organic ethos. Thus, the name “Fig” encompasses the essence of its owners, a touch of science, and the allure of a captivating fruit, creating a truly meaningful and multifaceted identity for the restaurant.
Fig. not only embraces all the enchanting elements of their name, but also takes full advantage of its scenic surroundings and strategic partnership with the Kiewit Luminarium, offering patrons a truly immersive and picturesque experience.
Thanks to the glass exterior walls, no matter where you sit in the café you can watch the river ebb and flow from your table. The space is also equipped with a patio, perfect for sipping a glass of wine on a warm summer day. With a view of the upcoming Riverfront Park as well, Fig enjoys a unique setting for a restaurant.
“Our partnership with the Luminarium is super unique and important. We share a common goal of community-building and engagement through food,” Watson Bartolomei elaborated.
The vision for Fig., Watson Bartolomei revealed, includes more than just serving delicious food; it’s about contributing to the cultural fabric of Omaha.
“We want Fig. to be a place where people from different communities can come together through food, share their cultural heritage, and engage in meaningful conversations,” Watson Bartolomei said emphatically.
Fig. hopes to collaborate on programming in the future, tying into some of the scientific aspects of food, such as the process of wild fermentation, the integral first step in the sourdough process. While programmatic collaboration is still being discussed, exhibits connected to food give kids and adults alike the opportunity to “play with food” through an educational lens.
As the Downtown park system prepares to open its second phase with Riverfront, Heartland of America, and Lewis & Clark Landing on August 18, 2023, Fig. is poised to become an integral part of the cultural experience. With plans to set up a tent during the opening weekend of the park, offering delectable burgers from Morgan Ranch and hot dogs and bratwurst from Frank Stoysich Meats, Fig. hopes to serve as many families and visitors as possible, both in the park and in the café.
Though Fig. is located inside the Luminarium, it’s important to note that you do not have to purchase tickets to the museum in order to enjoy all the eatery has to offer. Fig. has its own entrance, tucked in the southeast corner of the building. While your GPS will likely try to route you towards Abbott Drive, you can head East on Douglas Street, parallel to the park, which turns into Riverfront Drive, leading you straight to Fig.
If you find yourself hungry near the Riverfront, do not miss the opportunity to experience the one-of-a-kind café that is Fig. Step into their sun-filled space, savor the rich flavors of locally sourced dishes, and immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene that this dynamic eatery fosters.
With their unwavering commitment to high-quality ingredients, sustainability, and creative flair, Fig. is a testament to the power of a shared vision and the magic that unfolds when art, science, and gastronomy intertwine.