Taco Diablo, Lulu’s to return to Evanston

Paige Leskin, City Editor

Former Evanston restaurants Taco Diablo and Lulu’s may be making a comeback.

Co-owners Daniel Kelch and Marty Cless plan to reopen both restaurants in June 2015 in the same building at 1026 Davis St.

Construction could start as soon as next month depending on how fast City Council approves their proposal to demolish and reconstruct the building, Kelch said.

Both restaurants shuttered last academic year. Taco Diablo was destroyed by a fire in Decemeber 2013, and Kelch closed Lulu’s in February, saying it was profitable but only running on “cruise control.”

Kelch said he never intended for the businesses to leave Evanston permanently, mentioning in his closing announcement on the Lulu’s website that he hoped to rebuild Lulu’s with Taco Diablo.

“We’ve been here for a long time, so we’re members of this community,” he said. “Our first desire was always to stay in downtown Evanston, where we’ve always been.”

Both restaurants will reside in the new space, which is right across the street from Taco Diablo’s old location. Lulu’s, which opened 22 years ago, will get a design upgrade, but keep most of its popular dishes, Kelch said. Taco Diablo will keep a similar menu and appearance, he said.

The building will also consist of a second floor that has an entire new concept, he said.

“There will be food up there, but it’s going to have a flavor of more of a bar,” Kelch said. “It’ll be kind of a place where we hope people will come and just hang out, have a drink, spend an afternoon. We think that will help drive more revenue to help keep us a viable entity.”

Kelch said he and Cless, who owns the plot at 1026 Davis St., understand that the undertaking of such a large project will be taxing, especially financially. But Kelch said the pair hopes their previous success in the Evanston restaurant scene will prove to be an asset.

“There’s more stress financially because it is a more expensive project than what we’ve done before,” Kelch said. “We have a history that we think we can rely upon, that we can replicate … We’re just local guys trying to do business, that’s all.”

Taco Diablo’s original storefront, 1029 Davis St., burned down in an early morning fire on Dec. 29, 2013. The fire, which started in Pine Yard Restaurant, destroyed both Pine Yard and TechniColour Nail & Day Spa.

Evanston officials have tried to do whatever they can to help the businesses that burned down in the fire, said Mark Muenzer, the city’s community development director.

“We want to encourage locally owned, independent restaurants in our commercial district downtown,” he said. “Both of the restaurants that he is bringing back represent that. It’s great he’s able to do that.”

Kelch said he is planning on a June 2015 opening date for the new building, but that it could be delayed depending on the severity of the upcoming winter.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @paigeleskin

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