Having lived in Somerville for several years, I’ve seen many businesses come and go at 278 Highland Ave. But since 3 Little Figs moved in seven months ago, the space has become a vibrant community gathering spot serving high-quality, delicious food and coffee.
One of those products, the self-described “best ever” spinach pie, is a tasty blend of sheep’s milk feta, spinach, leek and phyllo. It’s a typical Greek street food that Rooney has tweaked to satisfy American palates with an incredible combination of textures and flavors.
In addition to the spinach pie, 3 Little Figs serves sandwiches, lots of excellent baked goods (the avocado muffin is divine) and local Greek yogurt with house-made granola.
“You can definitely max out your calories in a day here,” said Rooney. “These are sort of indulgences, but we try to keep nutrition in mind.”
To that end, 3 Little Figs serves organic espresso, soy milk and juices. The cafe also offers fruit bowls, salads and several vegan treats, which Rooney says are growing in popularity.
3 Little Figs is a family affair, with Rooney’s husband Andy, as well as her sister and mother contributing to the business. The figs started as Rooney, her mother and grandmother, who taught her how to make the Greek specialities she serves today.
“She definitely influenced me quite a bit,” Rooney said. She choose figs for the name because they align with her mediterranean roots–“a little sweet, beautiful, delicate, a nice image”–Rooney said.
Rooney was first introduced to the area of Somerville that her cafe now occupies a few years ago when she attended the Winter Farmers Market at the Armory on Highland Ave. At the time she was working out of a shared kitchen and selling her baked goods wholesale and at farmers markets.
Rooney was working in advertising, but was laid off when her company closed. She took it as a sign that it was time to take a professional leap.
“It was just the perfect storm,” Rooney said. She never had a career in the food business, but had taken some professional courses and spent much of her free time baking. “I was at that point in life where I was going to learn as much as in the field.”
The death of her grandmother also inspired her to take a leap.
“It fueled me, it propelled me to go for it,” Rooney said.
Having spent the last seven months getting a crash course in how to run a cafe, Rooney is looking forward to what’s next.
3 Little Figs sports a few cheerful tables outside that are the perfect spot to sit and sip one of the cafe’s cold-brewed iced coffees, which have been in high demand now that warmer weather has arrived. As time goes on, Rooney plans to do more seasonal, monthly and weekly specials that reflect the changing seasons.
It seems that a part of 3 Little Figs’ success can be attributed to the way it has connected with the community via social media like Twitter and Facebook and in real life by using locally sourced products like several varieties of MEM Tea and the always-irresistible Iggy’s Bread.
“We’re excited to have them grow with us and grow into them.” Rooney said of her local suppliers. “We’re at a time where we’re getting creative again. The possibilities are endless.”