If you’ve been hankering for a crusty bagel and a creamy schmear, look no further than Mensch’s, a new pop-up deli opening April 15 inside Picnic restaurant, 1619 Chicago Ave. Toasted treats and assorted toppings will be available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through June 11.

Featuring open-face bagel sandwiches, Mensch’s will also offer coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and a selection of traditional Jewish pastries.

Picnic restaurant
Picnic owner Jack DeMar is trying a bagel pop-up. Credit: Nancy McLaughlin

For Evanston restaurateur Jack DeMar, owner of Picnic and Pono Ono Poke, the pop-up is a chance to assess Evanston’s appetite for Jewish deli food and provide a taste of what’s to come with his next brick-and-mortar venture now in the works.

“As the weather warms up, I think it will be a great place for people to come on the weekends and grab a bagel and a coffee and sit outside and enjoy,” DeMar said. “It also gives us a chance to flesh out the brand a bit, see how we want to identify ourselves as a business and put out some feelers on menu items.”

The menu at Mensch’s, set to open Saturday, April 15. Credit: Jack DeMar

DeMar is starting with a limited menu but envisions expanded offerings in his permanent establishment. He said he hopes to close soon on lease for a downtown Evanston site for Mensch’s, but in the meantime plans to enjoy “a fun tryout” and learn a bit more about the bagel business and local tastes.

Bagels will be sourced locally from New York Bagel & Bialy in Skokie. “We tried a bunch, and those were our favorites,” said DeMar, who plans to serve about a half-dozen varieties.

In addition to cream cheese, bagel toppers will include bacon, egg and cheese; nova lox and all the fixings; avocado; and house-made whitefish salad.

Kiki Eliopoulos, DeMar’s partner in life and business and founder of the brand Kiki Bakes Pies, will provide freshly made pastries. Eric Kogan, whom DeMar calls “a good Jewish boy from the North Shore,” is a third partner in the deli project.

Nancy McLaughlin

Nancy McLaughlin is an Evanston-based freelance writer who has a fascination for the everyday events that shape our community in extraordinary ways. She covers human interest stories for the RoundTable.

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