A modern North Shore vegan restaurant is expanding to Chicago and Evanston

A modern North Shore vegan restaurant is expanding to Chicago and Evanston

The team behind suburban Winnetka’s first fully vegan restaurant plans to soon reveal the first two locations in a chain of casual stalls serving meatless buffalo wings, impossible barbecue burgers and more.

Elephant & Vine, a counter-service restaurant from Spirit Elephant owner CD Young, is scheduled to open this spring on Lincoln Common at 2335 N. Lincoln Avenue and at 719 Church Street in suburban Evanston.

Young hopes these openings will be a launch pad for great growth with the goal of opening at least one more Spirit Elephant and several Elephant & Vine locations across the country: “We see it as the start of a very large restaurant group. “, He says. “We probably want to be international at some point, but definitely national in the next few years; they’ll see us show up all over the country.”

Rendering of the exterior of a restaurant with a large black sign that reads

Evanston’s next Elephant & Vine.
DXU architects

Spirit Elephant was a pioneer when it opened in early 2020, bringing a stylish, fully vegan dining option to the North Shore for the first time. Just a few months after opening, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted Young to switch to takeout and delivery, along with selling boxes of produce and virtual cooking classes. Two years later, he wants to use what he has learned about his customers to woo diners in the city proper.

“Spirit [Elephant] It was a wonderful test kitchen and we had a great idea about what people really love, ”he says. “In the northern suburbs, it is not very accessible for most people. It’s easier for us to grow something that’s a little smaller and more agile. “

In Chicago, Young will face more competition. Lincoln Common, near DePaul University’s main campus alongside Lincoln, Fullerton, and Halsted, sits on the former site of Children’s Memorial Hospital and has tenants like Philz Coffee, Blue Sake Sushi Grill, and Verve Wine Bar.

A finalized menu for Elephant & Vine is not yet available, but customers can expect a tight selection ranging from impossible burgers and “Zero Clucks” battered chicken sandwiches to wraps, “Cornucopia Harvest” salads and bowls of buffalo cabbage. Unlike Spirit Elephant, which has a bar, Elephant & Vine will have a list of non-alcoholic shakes, smoothies, and lemonade.

Construction continues at both locations, which will feature an industrial-style design often associated with fast-casual eateries – counter-service venues primarily focused on takeout and delivery, with some seating for dinner. Young hopes the style of eating, along with the locations close to major universities, will be especially attractive to college students.

Young is not the only animal-free restaurateur in the area with major expansion plans. Laricia Chandler, chef and owner of the vegan and vegetarian restaurant Can’t Believe It’s Not Meat, has quickly turned her Hyde Park restaurant into a mini-chain with locations in Old Town and the southwestern suburbs of Orland Park. In early 2021, Chandler told Eater that his goal was to turn his brand into “The Vegan In-And-Out Burger” with restaurants around the world.

The growing popularity of vegan dining options indicates that there are plenty of customers for everyone. “If you think about where we were as a society, even five years ago when it comes to vegan food, a little ‘weird’, until today, when I dare say ‘great’,” Young says. “It has been a great paradigm shift.”

Elephant and vine, 2335 N. Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Park; 719 Church Street in Evanston; Scheduled to open in spring 2022.

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