Although a proposal from Dave Glatt, the owner of the recently closed Dave’s Italian Kitchen, begins, “For the record, I am about to file for bankruptcy,” the City’s Economic Development Committee, with only one dissenting vote, agreed on April 27 to recommend that City Council approve a $30,000 loan to Mr. Glatt for costs associated with opening Dave’s IK restaurant at 815 Noyes St. The site has been occupied by several restaurants over the past few years: Kim’s Kitchen, Fraiche, DMK Burgers and Fish, and, most recently, Arlen’s Chicken.
Dave’s Italian Kitchen was an Evanston fixture for more than 40 years, occupying four different spots. The restaurant moved to its most recent location at 1635 Chicago Ave. in 2000, with the City of Evanston spending what Mr. called “a fortune relocating me” at the time. There it would remain for over 15 years, a fixture in the Evanston and Northwestern communities alike.
Trouble appeared on the horizon last October, however, when Dave’s gave up its liquor license. “Isn’t that a red flag for anyone? Or is it just me?” Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite, asked at that time, when the release of the liquor license came before City Council.
“We believe there were particular circumstance which led them to make the change,” City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz replied then, adding that he did not believe the decision had anything to do with the business going forward. That same night, DMK Burgers and Fish gave up its liquor license.
According to Mr. Glatt’s letter to the City requesting the loan, however, the problems began much earlier. “I chose a space that was too big and required large-scale maintenance and upkeep. … Had I known it was going to be as expensive as it was, I never would have started it.”
After reopening, “Revenue was adversely affected by external events, such as the fall in the NASDAQ index in the summer of 2000, the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks, and, most profoundly, the 2008 Recession, from which we were never able to regain our weekly sales,” wrote Mr. Glatt.
That combination led to the restaurant’s being shuttered without much notice – a Facebook posting – on April 11. That very night at the Evanston City Council meeting, Mr. Glatt and his wife were given the “key to the City” for philanthropic work, offering a free dinner to one at-risk family every night from fall 2012 until the last day it was open.
“In the aftermath of what I still regard as the shameful closing of Dave’s Italian Kitchen, I assumed that my restaurant days were over,” wrote Mr. Glatt. That changed, he added, when the City put him in touch with the 815 Noyes landlord. “Despite feeling that I had no way of financing a pizza, let alone a restaurant, I took a look at the space and fell in love.”
Under the proposal recommended by the City’s Economic Development staff, “Mr. Glatt will be the manager working for Sara’s Kitchen, Ltd., (DBA Dave’s IK). Sara is Mr. Glatt’s daughter, while Mr. Glatt’s wife, Ellen, will be signing the lease. The final ownership structure is to be determined.”
Financing comes from three sources, according to the staff memo and Mr. Glatt’s letter. Landlord concessions account for $36,600; friends and family, including “an Evanston resident, patron and friend” who is lending $30,000, will contribute a total of $37,600. The staff memo continues, “Finally, because he is filing for bankruptcy, traditional bank financing proved impossible … Mr. Glatt has approached the City for gap financing totaling $30,000…”
If passed as written, the loan requires repayment over five years at 6% interest – about $580 per month.
City Council is expected to take up the matter at its May 9 meeting.