Good to Go located at 711 Howard Street. Photo provided.

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After 20 years of cooking up their beloved Jamaican cuisine, husband and wife team Tony and Lenice Levy said the key to working together has been understanding one another’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We balance each other out,” Tony said. “For us to execute the magnitude of the restaurant we have, it really needed her [Lenice]. I could never have done it without her.”

Good to Go, located at 711 Howard St., moved to the Evanston side of Howard Street in 2018. Before that, Good to Go was a fast service restaurant on the Chicago side for 16 years. Moving to Evanston helped Good to Go expand and invest in the community they reside in.

“It allowed us the space we needed to grow,” Lenice said. “It was a natural move for us.”

Tony and Lenice Levy, co-owners of Good to Go. (Photo provided)

Even so, the last few years haven’t been easy due to COVID-19, price inflation of supplies and the nationwide racial reckoning that has increased in the United States following the police killing of George Floyd.

Lenice said that although she feels like Good to Go receives support from Evanston residents, being a Black-owned business has still been challenging.

“We don’t have the same resources other ethnic groups may have available and our establishment is always held to a higher level of scrutiny because of the fact that we are Black-owned,” she said. “We can have the same credentials and not get some of the resources awarded to my colleagues in the restaurant business.”

After the killing of George Floyd, Lenice said she noticed a shift to support Black-owned businesses and, while it felt impactful, she wishes that the support was constant.

“We encourage people to continue to support Black-owned businesses and not just when tragic incidents happen. Hopefully, people will be intentional on a regular basis to support us because we honestly need it.”

Good to Go has also faced the ebb and flow of the pandemic through shifts of to-go only, outdoor seating and now, open again with no masks required as of Feb. 28 due to the citywide order by Mayor Daniel Biss.

“We dialed everything back to our humble beginnings,” Lenice said. “We were able to survive because of our ability to adapt to the circumstances.”

Good to Go is rooted in their legendary jerk sauce, passed down to Tony from his great-grandmother. At first, Tony was going to use his own sauce but his great-grandmother told him to use her famous recipe at Good to Go.

“No one can develop the sauce like we do,” he said. “It’s a whole different level of sauce. Everything we have done is intentional because we want to be different, we want to bring an experience to the Jamaican community to make sure that what we put out there isn’t like any other restaurant.”

The coffee beans at Good to Go are also imported from Jamaica, and Tony and Lenice said it is important to them both to be as authentic as they can.

Good to Go will soon be coming out with a vegetarian and vegan menu addition to provide further access to those with dietary restrictions.

Sam Stroozas

Sam Stroozas is a reporter and the social media manager at the Evanston RoundTable. She covers small businesses, social justice and human interest stories. Contact her at sam@evanstonroundtable.com and...

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  1. This is a great testament of what it takes for a black business to survive . Good to Go will continue to do well because of the their strong connection to God, family and community!!!

  2. I just had lunch here Saturday. It’s a place I bring friends and family to and they’re always amazed by the delicious food and friendly staff.

  3. Good to know about “Good to Go!”

    Thank you for posting this and to also complement you for posting the fascinating interview on Hecky’s.