The blows keep coming for the downtown business district, with the closure of Clarke’s Off Campus, a longtime Evanston diner that’s been around for more than three decades.
The diner, which opened in Evanston in 1985, has remained a fixture for the community, particularly Northwestern University students. With demand booming, the diner moved from Clark Street to a bigger location on Davis Street in 2019. The restaurant’s shutdown follows the recent closure of three other businesses: beauty salon Deka Lash on New Year’s Day and Smylie Brothers and Flat Top Grill the day before.
Local businesses are under pressure, particularly as office workers have yet to return to downtown in pre-pandemic numbers, according to Annie Coakley, executive director of the Downtown Evanston business district. “It is very common for restaurants to have high turnover. It’s a very difficult industry. Without a strong lunch crowd, it’s even more difficult,” she said.
The city has hired a consulting firm to develop a commercial business strategy, Coakley said, with a plan set to go to city council in the coming months.
“We’re probably going through a transformation period, a reimagining of the downtown district,” she said
Deka Lash, which opened in Evanston in 2019, announced its closure on its social media accounts Sunday. “Thank you for allowing us to take care of you and your lashes for the past 4 years. We value and appreciate each and every one of you,” the store said on its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
However, some business sites will see new activity this year. Fonda, a Mexican restaurant by renowned chef Michael Lachowicz, is set to open next month at 1735 Benson Ave., where The Stained Glass once stood.