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LoFo to Serve Thousands at Phish's Magna Ball Concert; "Local Food Love Food" the Focus

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

P1120760Syracuse, NY - The national spotlight shines on LoFo, a popular farm-to-table restaurant in Armory Square. The talents of LoFo owner and chef Abigail Hensen, Executive Chef Luke Szabo, and the entire LoFo family have been tapped to prepare cuisine for a three-day music festival in Watkins Glen, led by the popular jam band, Phish.

LoFo will run a full-service restaurant, serving brunch, lunch and a five-course dinner each night of the festival – August 21 through August 23 - as well as dinner the night before.

LoFo, located at 125 Walton Street in Downtown Syracuse, prides itself on two things: Local Food and Local Focus.

“LoFo stands for both of those things, but it’s about more than local food. A lot of times, it means who is behind the food,” Abigail Hensen, the owner, explains.

Established in 2012, LoFo serves ethically sourced, humanely raised meats and plant-based fare in a casual Downtown atmosphere.

“The idea is that regardless of your dietary restrictions, we’re all eating at the same table,” Abigail says. “Food is a thing that connects us, so regardless if you’re gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, or if you love your steak, you’re able to eat
something that feels like a celebration.”

Abigail elaborated on that mission in a recent interview, featured in the January edition of Edible Finger Lakes Magazine. That article landed in front of Phish - and the rest is history.

The band told Abigail they had picked up a copy of the magazine - knowing not only that they would play to a crowd of more than 40,000 people in the area in just a few months’ time, but that they wanted to offer farm-to-table sit down meals as part of the experience – hoping to find a local restaurant to work with. The band admired LoFo’s dedication to use food as the link to connect farmers and foodies to the community.

Each night’s menu showcases different options to suit vegan, vegetarian and omnivore palettes. The meals are inspired by Phish songs and lyrics. All food comes from local farmers, true to LoFo’s mission, and showcases Finger Lakes tastes. Dinner tickets, which cost $122, may be purchased through the Magna Ball website, where all menus are also displayed. Phish is branding the dining experience as “Festival Ate.”

“Many of these people have been following Phish for decades,” Abigail says. “They’re getting to a more sophisticated, affluent age, where they don’t just want to eat a funnel cake. That’s why Phish is giving them this as part of the experience.”

Though Abigail has been planning for this experience for much of the summer – expanding her team of eight people to a staff of 40 to meet the needs of the undertaking - meal preparations officially stared last week. This includes chopping vegetables to add to the 1,000+ Beet Burgers (renamed as the Dirt Burger) that the team will serve at the festival.

LoFo will close for almost two weeks to dedicate all efforts to feeding Phish fans (More than 40,000 people are expected to attend the festival!). The goal is to re-open by Friday, August 28. Abigail says there are plans to repeat the themed dinners later this year for LoFo guests who wish to be part of the experience, but may not be able to travel to Watkins Glen.

Traditionally, LoFo is open from 10:30 am to 8:30 pm, Wednesday through Saturday in Downtown Syracuse. It also serves Brunch from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm every Sunday. 

(Click here to read the entire article by Downtown Committee Communications Coordinator Alice Maggiore)

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