New Stores Offer Diverse Food, Furniture

Julie French

By Julie FrenchThe Daily Northwestern

New businesses springing up along Chicago Avenue are aiming at students’ wallets, and in several cases, their stomachs.

HomeMade Pizza Co. opened a week ago at 1301 Chicago Ave., the former home of ice cream spot Evanston Creamery.

The pizzas at this chain are assembled in the store, but customers take them home to bake. Fresh salads and giant chocolate-chip cookies – also baked at home – round out the menu.

“Pizza is fresher out of the oven than a cardboard box,” said Jon Stevens, a manager who moved from the first Evanston store on Central Street. “We’re just like any other pizza place, except we don’t cook them.”

The restaurant’s selection is slightly more eclectic than the typical pizza out of a box. Barbecue chicken, artichokes and seven types of cheese all make an appearance on the specialty 12- and 14-inch pizzas. For individual-size servings, the “cutie pie” kit comes with five 9-inch pizzas that can be cooked whenever a craving hits. Pizza prices start at $9.75 for a plain 12-inch pizza.

Just north is Addis Abeba, which took bragging rights as Evanston’s only Ethiopian restaurant when it moved from its Wrigleyville location in June. It replaces sushi restaurant New Japan at 1322 Chicago Ave. In this restaurant, named for Ethiopia’s capital, all food is served on a platter of traditional Injera bread and without silverware.

“It’s an artistic thing,” said waitress Rebecca Mekonnen. “You get to eat with your hands, and people get really attracted to that.”

The most popular dish, according to co-owner Endal Hailemariam, is the chef’s combo platter, which lets diners try one meat dish and three vegetables for $13 – a meal he said repeat diners order again and again, since the possibilities are almost endless.

Amid all of the new restaurants is Scandinavian Design Outlet, a furniture store based in Skokie. Co-owner J. Edgar Kelin, who owns the company with his brother and sister, said he plans to open the Evanston location at 1527 Chicago Ave. on Thanksgiving weekend.

The building, previously occupied by Active Endeavors, is for sale, though, so the outlet store will remain open only until the building is sold.

Scandinavian Design will have a new neighbor in January, when The Corner Chef opens at 533 W. Davis St., the former location of Flower Magic. Ray and Tracey Samlow, owners of MJ Catering, decided to expand their business to this storefront location to offer grab-and-go lunches and home-style take-out meals in addition to their catering business.

“It’s healthy food that people can take home and bake in 10 minutes,” Ray Samlow said.

The couple plans to offer a menu of ethnic and American cuisine that changes daily – anything from southwestern and Asian dishes to turkey meatloaf.

Diet-friendly fare also will be available. Prices were unavailable.

Whether they are on a diet or not, busy individuals and families will both be able to take home a quick, fresh meal instead of heating up a frozen dinner, manager Paula Silver said.

Reach Julie French at [email protected]