The Daily Northwestern

New Mediterranean restaurant could open on Orrington as early as August

Mediterranean restaurant chain Naf Naf Grill has applied to open a branch at 1629 Orrington Ave., which used to house a Borders bookstore.

Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Mediterranean restaurant chain Naf Naf Grill has applied to open a branch at 1629 Orrington Ave., which used to house a Borders bookstore.

Sophia Bollag, Reporter

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The co-founder of a rapidly growing Mediterranean restaurant chain has applied to open a new location in downtown Evanston.

David Sloan filed a city application to open a new branch of the Naf Naf Grill at 1629 Orrington Ave., a site that used to house a Borders bookstore.

“If you look at the Mediterranean category, we think they’re the best out there,” said Kim McGuire, senior vice president of CBRE, the real estate company managing the building.

The chain specializes in falafel, shawarma and kababs and has been called “the Chipotle of Middle Eastern food” by The Beacon News, an Aurora, Ill., newspaper, because of its popularity and its quick-service style, where customers order food at the counter.

The Naf Naf Grill currently has four locations in Illinois. Sloan says he plans to open five more within the next six months, including one in Evanston.

“We are on a pretty big growth,” he said. “Northwestern I think will be a great market for us.”

The restaurant will offer specials for NU students and will advertise at athletic events, Sloan said.

Before it can officially plan to open in Evanston, the zoning board of appeals must approve the restaurant’s application. The board was scheduled to review the proposal Wednesday evening, but the meeting was canceled due to snow. The board will instead review the application at its March 19 meeting.

If the board approves the application, other city committees will vote on the proposal, which can be approved no earlier than April 22. The application has already received a favorable recommendation from the site plan and appearance review committee, as well as city staff, according to city documents.

“We’re excited that Naf Naf is opening in Evanston,” said Paul Zalmezak, a coordinator for the city’s economic development committee.

Zalmezak described the city as a “perfect location” for the new restaurant because of the reliable downtown customer base and its proximity to campus.

Sloan said he anticipates the restaurant will open in August, if everything goes according to plan.

“We’re excited to get into Evanston,” he said. “We’ll be there soon.”

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About the Writer
Sophia Bollag, In Focus Editor

Sophia is the former editor in chief of The Daily Northwestern. She currently serves as In Focus editor, leading The Daily's investigations desk. Her past...