While the city has seen four longstanding businesses close recently, new places are still coming or are on the horizon: LeTour, Amy Morton’s newly opened French-Moroccan restaurant is one and another is Michael Lachowicz’s Fonda, a Mexican restaurant, hoping to open soon at 1735 Benson Ave., the former site of The Stained Glass.

“We’re still having new businesses arrive as others unfortunately close,” said Council Member Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward.

The shared entrance of Union Pizza/Evanston Space at 1245 Chicago Ave Credit: Manan Bhavnani

At the same time, two iconic businesses on the Main-Dempster Mile are set to get a makeover and both are drawing up expansion plans.

While residents are generally supportive of the developments, a small group of community members expressed concerns at a neighborhood meeting Saturday, Jan. 7, about the remodeling of Union Pizzeria and Evanston SPACE at 1245 Chicago Ave.

“This is a regional draw. It’s an economic engine, not just for this area, but for all of Evanston,” Wynne said. The new design, she added, will improve the experience for show-goers at the venue.

The project is set to take over a site next door at 1243 Chicago Ave., an antiques store that was razed last summer. The proposed redevelopment will see the restaurant get an upgraded kitchen and new patio, while the music venue will be able to have an independent entrance, more amenities, and an overflow area.

Jake Samuels, executive director at Evanston SPACE, points to a plan of the proposed development during the Saturday meeting. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

“What we’re proposing is really a support structure that would improve the amenities and infrastructure of our current operations. Not so looking at expanding the business so much as improving it,” said Jake Samuels, executive director of Evanston SPACE.

Currently, he said, the venue shares an entryway with the pizza store, with remodeling set to take that burden off the restaurant. Samuels said the plan will also enable the venue to have a box office, a coat check and independent bathrooms.

People listen during the community meeting on expanding Evanston SPACE Saturday. Credit: Manan Bhavnani

However, a few of the 12 residents attending expressed concerns about parking and whether the venue or the restaurant would be increasing capacity. Samuels acknowledged parking can be an issue on Dempster Street, but said he is not looking to increase capacity at SPACE.

Samuels said he expects the project to wrap up sometime this spring. Before this can happen, Evanston SPACE will have to apply for a special use permit as well as an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance, said Elizabeth Williams, the city’s planning manager.

This will follow a review by the Land Use Commission, but the final decision will be voted on by the city council, Williams said.

Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...

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  1. As you seem to be highlighting new area restaurants please do not forget or overlook the newly opened Mexican Restaurant- Zentli- at 1813 Dempster in the West Village Business District. Covid slowed them down but they never gave up and opened a few weeks ago!!!!!
    Dickelle Fonda

  2. I live in the area and am in favor of Union and Space expanding and would really like an outdoor dining venue but the “not so looking to expand” comment will be jumped on by the naysayers.

  3. Hooray! What a wonderful improvement this will be. We need to continue to make attractions even more attractive. The separate entrance will be great. Look forward to the patio too. SPACE is such a treasure and to be able to walk there is wonderful too. This is enhance other business activity in the area too.