Minding Our Own Businesses is a biweekly column that highlights businesses in Evanston. If you know of or run a business that has a story to tell, contact Isabelle Reiniger at isabelle@evanstonroundtable.com

Epic celebration

David Grossman, president and CEO of Epic Burger, decided that Northwestern University’s amazing men’s basketball upset of No. 1-ranked Purdue on Sunday, Feb. 12 deserved a celebration. This was NU’s first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked opponent.

When Northwestern upset top-ranked Purdue 64-58 for first win over No. 1 opponent ever, Dave Grossman, president and CEO of Epic Burgers thought a celebration was in order. Credit: Submitted

Grossman tweeted out at about 5:30 p.m. Sunday: “An EPIC win, deserves an epic celebration for NU students and staff!!!!!! Free hamburger, grilled chicken, turkey burger or garden veggie tonight until close!!!! Evanston location only. Extras are extra!!!! 1 per person. Come celebrate!!!!”

As a result, more than 200 burgers were handed out and there was an epic celebration that included star NU players Boo Buie and Chase Audige.

Accents Plus’ GoFundMe

“From recessions to construction directly in front of our doors to a worldwide pandemic, we have fought tooth and nail to stay open,” owner Alejandra Escalante wrote on Accents Plus’ GoFundMe page.

Though she and her mother and co-owner Virginia Escalante attempted to apply for Small Business Administration loans during the pandemic, they were unsuccessful, filing late and misplacing the filing. 

Accents Plus was first opened by Virginia Escalante in 1985 on Main Street. “Corporate America wasn’t for me,” Escalante senior said.

She found a small storefront on Main Street for $685 rent per month. She had worked for airlines prior to opening the store and bought a lot of items to sell during her travels.

“Sterling Silver jewelry became a fad at that time,” she said and talked about the store having been featured in Chicago Magazine.

Accents Plus in downtown Evanston. Credit: Isabelle Reiniger

“We got nuts with people lining up around the corner,” she reminisced about those days. In 1990 the store moved to its current location on the corner of Davis Street and Chicago Avenue and it has been selling women’s clothing and jewelry. 

I have been writing about the recent trend of businesses using GoFundMe campaigns to raise funds for various needs. Over the past month and a half, the Escalantes were able to run a successful fundraising campaign despite dealing with hackers who attempted to divert money away from their account.

“We are very grateful to our customers,” Virginia Escalante said. She teared up as she shared that they had owed $45,000 in back rent. However, they took the $21,879 they had raised to their landlord and she accepted. “We’re not going anywhere!” Virginia Escalante said.

Both Escalantes emphasized how their customer base came through for them. 

Virginia Escalante also noted that she was about to meet with Jonathan Nieuwsma, her Fourth Ward council member, about joining the city’s Legacy Business Program. “They certainly qualify to participate,” Nieuwsma said.

“The legacy program is a new program that we are just in the process of developing,” he said, explaining that it is modeled after a similar program in San Francisco.

The program does not offer direct financial support to businesses. The idea is to lend marketing power to longstanding merchants.

One way this might be done is via a listing on an Evanston legacy businesses website. The hope is that this will help to increase their profits.

This may be yet a way the city (and the internet) can help local businesses stay afloat in these uncertain times. More detail about the legacy program can be found on the city’s website

Isabelle Reiniger

Isabelle Reiniger, LCSW is a writer and psychotherapist in private practice in Evanston. She reports on local businesses opening and closing for the Evanston RoundTable. Reach Isabelle at isabelle@evanstonroundtable.com

Leave a comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *