This is an April Fool story.
In a novel adaptive reuse of an existing building sure to achieve more and new nominations if not awards for Evanston’s business community, local restauranteur Harvey Greenstem plans to open an exciting and novel concept restaurant in the decommissioned Evanston Recycling Center on Oakton Street.
The restaurant, tentatively named “Recycled Repasts,” will offer a menu consisting entirely of castaway food products gathered from other nearby restaurants and grocery stores as well as strategically placed gathering bins located in particularly fruitful areas of the City. Necessarily, the menu will change daily – sometimes hourly – depending on what can be collected.
The recyling center closed in 2010 for budgetary reasons. Since that time, the City has been looking for another use for the facility. Past proposals, none of which has gotten past the initial planning stages, included an indoor sports facility (soccer and baseball), a bowling alley, and a privately developed shopping center. The restaurant idea has been percolating quietly for months and finally appears ready for soft opening.
“You would be absolutely amazed at the quality of the food that gets thrown away in this City on a daily basis,” Mr. Greenstem told a rapt City Council Monday night. “And you’d be even more impressed by how much can be gathered from ordinary trash bins. A few dozen egg shells, if properly handled, can yield a full egg’s worth of quality egg white.”
Greens that appear past their prime or overripe can be rejuvenated under the proper hand, he added. Even if they can’t be restored to their resplendent, rich green beauty, the nutrients can be found and extracted in “a maple-inspired partially turned kalish smoothie,” Mr. Greenstem said, calling that particular offering a personal favorite.
Cooking gas will also be recycled according to the staff memo accompanying the proposal. A direct pipe from the recycling center will tap in to the free methane gas stored under James Park, simultaneously providing free cooking fuel to a new local business, at the same time burning off stray methane gas. “While we still feel someone some utility, should pay us for the methane gas being there,” said Pearl LeBlanc, the City’s Geology Czar, “we couldn’t pass up this opportunity to assist Mr. Greenstem’s lovely business proposal.”
The restaurant faces long odds. A similar concept restaurant in Austin, Texas, the “Animated Armadillo,” fell on hard times when a patron discovered a pin of live armadillos in back of the restaurant. A lawsuit alleging false advertising, the armadillos were not in fact road kill, effectively shut down the restaurant. Portland’s Resuscitated Reindeer failed for a different reason – lack of steady supply. “We just couldn’t find enough carcasses,” the executive chef was quoted as saying just after closing.
“Our largely limp-vegetable focus should avoid those problems,” explained Mr. Greenstem. “You just wait. You’ll never go back to crisp bright green lettuce again.”
Council also considered, but tabled, a request for a new type of liquor license serving recaptured, recycled table wine from other restaurants. “Customers leave behind so much wine in glasses and bottles,” said Mr. Greenstem. “We have a contract with several restaurants right now. Give us the license and we’ll start collecting – and serving – our special reject red blend.” Council seemed split as to whether to add a new license, the 347th category of liquor license in Evanston, or combine this into another. Council directed the legal department to provide a memo offering several options.
Recycled Repasts plans to open Wednesday, April 1. They do not accept reservations – expect to show up and wait if you plan a repast on opening night. For now, bring your own reject red.