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This spring, acclaimed Chef Yun Fuentes, together with MilkBoy Restaurant Group’s Jamie Lokoff and Tommy Joyner, will open a new Latin and Caribbean-inspired eatery and rum bar dubbed Bolo, located at 2025 Sansom St in Rittenhouse Square.
Standing at two stories tall, Bolo will feature a more casual, small-plate dining experience as well as its signature rum bar on the first floor, while the second floor will house the main, full-service dining room.
The origins of the partnership date back nearly a decade, and yet, somewhat surprisingly, it’s a partnership that Lokoff and Joyner never really thought possible.
“I’ve known Yun personally for like 10 years, his wife was my kid’s nanny,” Lokoff tells What Now Philadelphia. “So we’ve been friends for a long time. And we always talked about trying to figure out some way to work together.”
However, given Fuentes’ background in fine dining, having worked in the kitchens of award-winning Chef Jose Garces and hospitality veteran Stephen Starr, Lokoff and Joyner figured their brand’s more relaxed identity wasn’t a “good fit” for Fuentes.
Nevertheless, it was something Fuentes said that stuck with Lokoff, and suggested a partnership down the line might still be possible.
“[Fuentes] can do the seven-course meals, but as he says, ‘You never really crave a seven-course meal, but if you have a friend that tells you; oh, I had this great burger, you gotta go try it, you’re gonna go try it.’ So he likes to create food that people crave,” says Lokoff.
If that was the moment the seeds for Bolo were planted, in a manner of speaking, then the cultivation was to come last May when Fuentes was hired for a dinner party hosted by Lokoff, during which the restaurant’s concept would begin to take shape.
“I went to school at the University of Miami and I love Cuban food, and he’s from Puerto Rico, and there’s some overlap in that cuisine, and it’s really in his wheelhouse, really personal to him and it’s a passion of his, and we just saw the opportunity to do something,” says Lokoff. “There’s not a lot of Latin cuisine going on in Philadelphia right now, and there are no rum bars going on in Philadelphia right now. We’ve opened a bunch of places and this one really feels right, everything seems to be aligned.”