Council approves loan to bring Chicago’s Home of Chickens and Waffles to west Evanston

Jia You

Chicken and waffles may soon be on the menu for west Evanston residents.

It also recommended that the city make a $200,000 loan to the restaurant to help fund the cost of property purchase and construction.

“It’s going to create much-needed jobs in the area,” said Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd), whose ward will be the home of the new restaurant.

The location will be 2424 Dempster St., which is currently a foreclosed property. According to a memo from city staff to the economic development committee, the new restaurant is projected to hire 76 staff, mostly from Evanston, as well as generate $126,000 in restaurant and liquor sales tax revenues for the city in its first full year of operation.

Darnell Johnson, the restaurant’s operations manager, said Evanston is a “great fit” for his new branch. The restaurant currently operates two locations in Chicago and Oak Park.

The proposed Evanston location, composed of about 5,000 square feet, would be Johnson’s largest branch and would include a private room for 50 and a full bar, he said. He added he expects the signature chicken and waffles dish, with syrup mixing with the salt of the chicken, to attract clients “from (ages) 3 to 83.”

Ald. Jane Grover (7th), also a member of the city’s economic development committee, said the new restaurant would add to the variety of restaurants in Evanston.

“Evanston is known as a great place for fine dining,” she said. “I think Chicken and Waffles really adds to our restaurant profile.”

Grover said she was impressed by the owners’ track record and market research.

“All of that says to me that the city can make a loan to them without a huge risk,” Grover said. “And at the same time we will be helping the economic development of our west side.”

Under the current proposal, the city would contribute about 25 percent of the capital expected to build the new restaurant. The owners would invest $212,000, about another quarter of the total capital, and take out two loans, from First Bank & Trust of Evanston and Express Working Capital respectively.

The City Council will vote on the business plan May 14, and Grover said she expects the plan to pass. If approved, the restaurant could be running by November this year, Johnson said.

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