Union Squared renovation to double restaurant size, seating capacity


Chris Vazquez/Daily Senior Staffer

Union Squared, 1307 Chicago Ave. The Detroit-style pizzeria’s renovation and expansion will double its square footage and increase the restaurant’s visibility.

Clare Proctor, Reporter

A renovation and expansion at Union Squared Evanston will add up to 10 more seats to accommodate the restaurant’s large customer “fan base,” co-owner Heather Behm said.

“We were pretty packed all the time, doing lots and lots of carry-out because there isn’t much room inside in the dining room during bad weather,” Behm said.

The Detroit-style pizzeria, located at 1307 Chicago Ave., has been under construction since February. The new space will house the operations counter and an expanded kitchen, allowing the original space to be used strictly as a dining area, she said.

Evanston’s economic development manager Paul Zalmezak said several businesses in the Main-Dempster Mile business district, including Union Squared, are holding ribbon-cutting ceremonies Saturday.

“There really isn’t a pizzeria in the neighborhood where you can just sit and enjoy a pizza,” he said. “The expansion will really help the neighborhood have a place to enjoy pizza on site.”

Behm co-owns Union Squared and its sister restaurants — Union Pizzeria at 1245 Chicago Ave. and Union Squared Chicago at Revival Food Hall — with Vince DiBattista, Craig Golden and Steve Schwartz.

Behm said most of Union Squared’s current seating is in the backyard beer garden, which can seat up to 75 customers. However, she said she realized they needed more space when the winter weather made the outdoor seating space unusable.

The expansion, which will add 550 square feet to the original 550-square-foot space, will also increase the restaurant’s visibility, said DiBattista.

“We’ll have more presence,” he said. “It’s such a small, little space that people could drive by and go unnoticed because it’s so tiny.”

The addition expands to the property next door, which formerly housed a dry cleaning service, Behm said. Both the new and original properties were owned by Blue Star Properties — a real estate company founded by Union Squared partner Craig Golden. When the new lot became available, Behm said it “would not make sense not to take the space.”

The new space had not been “touched or loved in a very long time,” Behm said, and it required lots of renovations.

“We really had to redo everything, fix all the drywall, sand all the floors, put kitchen flooring in the back,” she said. “We picked out some beautiful tiles and cool light fixtures.”

Behm said in lieu of hiring outside contractors, workers with Blue Star Properties completed most of the expansion and renovation themselves.

In addition to accommodating more dine-in patrons, the expansion will allow Union Squared to keep up with the “vigorous” carry-out demand, Behm said.

The original space has remained open for business throughout the construction process, but DiBattista said the restaurant is “pretty tight” right now.

“We’re making do, but it’s hard,” DiBattista said. “It will just make our lives easier, being able to do our job more efficiently, (and) we need to meet the demands we have.”

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