South Philly’s latest newest restaurant opened just this past Friday, but it if the owners have their way, the eatery will be more than simply a restaurant. According to co-owner Christina Kallas-Saritsoglou, the restaurant plans to donate some portion of its profits to various charities around the city.
“We love the neighbors and we just want to make an impact on peoples’ lives,” Kallas-Saritsoglou said. “We’ve tried to make it a warm, inviting, fun atmosphere for people.”
The restaurant’s other co-owner is Kallas-Saritsoglou’s husband, Chef Bobby Saritsoglou. It was Saritsoglou’s idea to name the restaurant Stina, after a nickname he gave his wife.
“Stina is my love letter to my wife, and is our celebration of food and community,” said Chef Saritsoglou. “This is my first restaurant on my own – and Stina is also our first time working together. We spent years designing a restaurant concept that brings together our core values. This isn’t just a business, but it is an extension of our home and our life.”
The mission-driven restaurant idea makes sense when you compare the couple’s backgrounds. Kallas-Saritsoglou has a background in non-profit work. In fact, she’s the manager and one of the co-founders of Philly AIDS Thrift, which is coming up on its 14th anniversary of being in operation. Saritsoglou on the other hand has more than 20 years of experience being a chef in Philadelphia, including stops at Opa, Will BYOB and even Santucci’s back in the day.
“We’re not a non-profit,” said Kallas-Saritsoglou. “We’re a restaurant, and with that there’s a chance to bring people together. Where people eat together – that’s a cultural hub, and when we started thinking about what we realized we could use that aspect to give back to our community. That’s just a part of who we are.”
The menu will feature a mixture of wood-fired pizzas and Mediterranean fare. According to Saritsoglou, the menu will change on a seasonal basis.
“Everything from shawarma, sandwiches, hummus to kebabs and lots of different pastas” will be featured on the menu,” Saritsoglou said.
Interestingly, both Saritsoglou and Kallas-Saritsoglou, who have been married for nearly ten years, live just a few blocks from the restaurant, which is located at 1705 Snyder Avenue.
“The mission behind it is food, friends and community,” Saritsoglou said. “That’s what we’re doing.”
Kallas-Saritsoglou said it’s too early to tell which organizations donations will go to and how much will be donated. However, she said that the most likely scenario will be that some percentage of the daily profits will go toward an organization of their choice. In addition, on the last Tuesday of every month 20% of the day’s profits will go toward the organization. This month’s beneficiary is set, however. It’ll be the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC), which will use the funds to benefit its 6-week Summer WorkReady program, which is designed to provide work readiness skills to youth through aservice learning model, according to Kallas-Saritsoglou.
“I imagine that number will probably ebb and flow for a little bit and until we’re at a [place] where we know were things are,” Kallas-Saritsoglou said.
Despite his long history in the restaurant business, this is the first restaurant Saritsoglou has ever owned.
“My wife and I decided to collaborate both of our lifelong aspirations and open an endeavor together,” he said. “I’m bringing the food, she’s bringing the community aspect and together we’re bringing friends.”