Dave’s Italian Kitchen owner to turn down city loan, launches crowdfunding campaign

David Fishman, Reporter

The owner of Dave’s Italian Kitchen, which closed its location on Chicago Avenue last month, will no longer pursue a loan from the city and will instead rely on individual donations to help fund a new restaurant on Noyes Street.

“This is easier and it’s more politically palatable,” Dave Glatt said. “The only people we’re getting money from are people who are a) getting something in return and b) have voluntarily donated.”

After the 44-year-old Evanston restaurant shut its doors April 11 due to financial woes and profit loss, Glatt said he worked with the city to find a new, smaller space for the restaurant. The city subsequently offered him a nearly $30,000 loan for kitchen equipment — approved by the Economic Development Committee and scheduled for a vote by City Council on May 9 — but Glatt said he did not end up needing the money. Instead, he started an online fundraiser which by Sunday night had received about a quarter of its $21,000 goal.

The decision to turn down the city’s money came after Glatt said he received a donation of kitchen equipment from a friend, which reduced his financial need. He added that he did not want to deal with the paperwork of a new loan despite the city’s generous lending rates.

“This project began with the city beckoning to me and so explicit in that was that they would arrange some kind of financing,” he said. “I thought that would have just been it.”

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said crowdfunding seemed like the “most appropriate” way to handle raising money for the new restaurant. Wilson, who sits on the Economic Development Committee but was not present at the April meeting, said he has consistently voted down loans to Evanston businesses.

“Public money is not for investing in private businesses,” he said. “The primary risk is that you could put someone at a competitive advantage or put others at a competitive disadvantage if you’re assisting one and not the other.”

The new restaurant — which will open at 815 Noyes St. in a 1,200-square-foot space previously occupied by Arlen’s Chicken and DMK Burger & Fish — will no longer be owned by Dave Glatt. Instead, his daughter Sara Glatt will take the helm.

Sara Glatt started working at her father’s restaurant as a teenager and continued off and on for about 15 years. She told The Daily in an email she decided to take over the project to “help (her) father in a very difficult time.”

“Due to his subsequent unemployment, I have started a business to get him back to work and get his food back to our beloved patrons,” she wrote on the restaurant’s fundraising page. “I love my parents but do not want them living with me!”

Now on its fourth move to a fifth location, Dave Glatt said he hoped the new restaurant would launch in late May. Nevertheless, he added, there were still some obstacles like layout in the much smaller location, acquiring additional kitchen equipment and building a new menu.

“I’m new to all of this,” he said. “There is no premeditated plan. … The new place is a work in progress and I’m feeling my way through it myself. … With every day something new comes up.”

Email: davidpkfishman@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @davidpkfishman