Prairie Moon set to relocate to former home of Dave’s Italian Kitchen


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Prairie Moon’s new location, 1635 Chicago Ave. Owner Robert Strom said he hopes to reopen the restaurant’s doors in the next three to four weeks.

Ryan Wangman, Copy Chief

More than two years after Evanston staple Dave’s Italian Kitchen closed its doors at the popular Chicago Avenue location, the newly displaced owner of Prairie Moon will try his hand at revitalizing the space.

Robert Strom, Prairie Moon’s owner, saw his restaurant at 1502 Sherman Ave. close — 16 years to the day after it opened — in preparation for the construction of Albion Residential’s planned 15-story apartment tower. Strom said the move to the spot at 1635 Chicago Ave. will provide an opportunity for the business to take advantage of the space’s new features as well as generate a more steady stream of foot traffic.

“It had a lot of the amenities that we needed to keep going forward,” Strom said. “Prairie Moon has always been a congregational place. People tend to meet there, larger groups and so on, and so we really wanted to attain the ability to have that meeting place vibe.”

Barring any setbacks, Strom hopes to open the restaurant within the next three to four weeks. He said the feeling of the place may be a little different and more “bar-centric,” with the bar located at the front of the restaurant and an update to the joint’s cocktail menu in the works.

The space is similarly sized to the previous location — without the outdoor area — which was one of the reasons Strom decided to move the business there. He said the restaurant needed to make a relatively quick move, which ruled out a construction-based relocation, and there weren’t many options for large enough spaces that had previously housed a restaurant.

Discussions over the lease for the space were a few months in the making but were not finalized until Prairie Moon’s final week of operations on Sherman, the restaurant’s marketing manager Scott Anderson said. He added that the people who work at the establishment don’t want to be out of business for too long.

“The restaurant closed on a Sunday evening, and on Monday morning they were in there and moving all their stuff out and into Dave’s Italian Kitchen’s space,” Anderson said.

In the new space, Anderson said, the majority of the staff will stay onboard through the move. He added that the restaurant will have a lot of the same food and maintain its same relaxed, welcoming “vibe.”

Paul Zalmezak, the city’s economic development manager, said the move helps occupy a space that would otherwise be difficult to fill due to its lower-level, basement configuration, which obstructs some of the visibility into the spot. He said Prairie Moon will likely serve a greater portion of the Northwestern community in the new location and serve as an anchor for the north end of the block.

“I do think that they’ll benefit from the visibility of the foot and auto traffic, and I think they’ll do well there,” Zalmezak said. “They really spent some time thinking about where to relocate … and they ended up going with this.”

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