Evanston shuts down pop-up restaurant Under the Table for lack of license

Kimberly Railey, Managing Editor

Although pop-up restaurant Under the Table was shut down by Evanston last month for not having a license, its owners say the issue will be resolved in the next few weeks.

When the fine-dining spot came to the city in August, it did not secure a food establishment license from the Evanston Health Department, a requirement for restaurants to open. As a pop-up business, Under the Table has no permanent location but operated in Evanston out of a kitchen at 940 Pitner Ave.

As a “private party masquerading as a restaurant,” Under the Table owners were not aware they needed to comply with city codes, co-owner Max Mora said. Evanston sent Under the Table a cease-and-desist letter Oct. 24.

Carl Caneva, assistant director of the Evanston Health Department, said he learned about the licensing issue through Yelp and a “couple other places” on the Internet.

“We want to make sure this is consistent” with the rules applied to other restaurants, Caneva said.

The restaurant is working with the city and is on track to settle the problem by the end of the month, Mora said.

“It was a concern for a moment, but it looks like it won’t really hurt us,” Mora said. “We contend that we’re not really a regular restaurant … but we’ve learned our lessons in terms of secrecy when it comes to underground pop-up dinners. We will certainly comply.”

Before using the Pitner Avenue space, Under the Table held dinners at Company Evanston, a restaurant that hosts a rotating lineup of chefs. The location, 1307 Chicago Ave., previously drew “Top Chef” finalist Beverly Kim.

 Now, Under the Table is serving meals in other Chicago-area venues.

“We’re going wherever we need to go to take care of this,” co-owner Chikoo Patel said. “We’re going to take care of it quickly.”

The restaurant is also preparing for a Nov. 23 event to benefit Youth Organizations Umbrella, an Evanston-based organization that provides support for young people.

Within the next three months, Under the Table hopes to open a physical storefront in Chicago’s Lakeview or Logan Square neighborhoods, Mora said.

Patrick Svitek contributed reporting.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @kimberlyrailey