European-style cafe, eatery to open in The Keg of Evanston’s former location

Darby Hopper, Reporter

A new restaurant is moving to the location formerly inhabited by The Keg of Evanston, bringing European-style coffee and food to the city’s downtown.

Cupitol Coffee & Eatery will open in April at 810 Grove St., occupying the same building as the gastropub Bangers & Lace, which opened just over a year ago in Evanston to mark the second location of the Chicago-based restaurant.

The space has been vacant since 2013 when The Keg closed following legal troubles. Paul Zalmezak, an economic development official for the city, said the building’s renovation was delayed when the building’s owner passed away one year ago.

Cupitol is owned by Sellia Georges, an Evanston native who spent nearly two decades in Europe before returning to the city. She said she plans to offer European coffee drinks, a small juice bar and in-house baked goods while also operating as a full service restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“I just wanted to bring Europe to America and marry the two — marry a European bakery and a restaurant,” Georges said. “Everything will be handmade in the restaurant. We’ll be sourcing local ingredients.”

Though Evanston is home to several coffee shops, Zalmezak said that Cupitol is not designed as a typical cafe, and it will cater to a different demographic.

“It’s going to appeal to more of the office workers and resident population just because of its location,” Zalmezak said, pointing out that students hang out more on the northern end of town as opposed to the southern end where Cupitol will be located. “But with their brunch plans, it might pull people down.”

Although this is her first time owning a restaurant, Georges said she has grown up around the industry. She is working with her father throughout the process of opening Cupitol, she added.  

Georges chose to open the eatery in Evanston because it felt like it symbolized coming home and bringing a piece of Europe with her, she said.

“Eatery means somewhere that somebody can come at any time of the day and have a meal or dessert or coffee — a familiar place,” Georges said.   

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he is looking forward to Cupitol’s arrival in his ward because it builds on a trend of new-style eateries in the city.

“This is a nice expansion of that concept,” Wilson said. “It builds the community.”

City restaurants are classified as one of two types — type one restaurants are sit down and full service, whereas type two restaurants are carry out style and require an additional review period, Zalmezak said. He added that Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee reviewed Cupitol’s plans Wednesday night to try and classify it as type one or type two eatery, but due to its unique structure, the committee was unable to immediately categorize it.

Zalmezak said the rise of fast casual restaurants has complicated this classification system, and the group is working with Cupitol to decide where it fits in the code until the groups can meet again.

“Overall, they were well received,” Zalmazek said. “It’s an exciting concept. We’re really pleased that they’re building out the other half of the former Keg with a use that will be really good for the community.”

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