Reza’s Restaurant to bring Mediterranean, Persian cuisine to Downtown Evanston


Zoe Malin/Daily Senior Staffer

Reza’s Restaurant will open in the space that formerly belonged to Pete Miller’s within the next few months. It specializes in Medditeranian and Persian cuisine.

Zoe Malin, Reporter

Chicken kebabs, dolmeh and baklava are a few of the many dishes Reza’s Restaurant will offer to residents when it opens in Downtown Evanston within the next few months. The Mediterranean and Persian eatery will move in to 1557 Sherman Ave., the space that formerly belonged to Pete Miller’s, which closed over the summer.

Ryan Toulabi, owner of Reza’s, said the restaurant is in the “very early planning stages” of its expansion into Evanston, but hopes to open as soon as possible.

“Opening a location in Evanston is a great opportunity for Reza’s,” said Toulabi. “We hope to create an experience that hardens into the landscape of the community.”

Reza’s Restaurant was founded in 1983 and has locations in Andersonville and Oak Brook. Toulabi said its chefs specialize in cooking over a grill without oil, providing customers with healthy options for lunch and dinner. Reza’s is known for its lunch buffets every week from Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Customers can enjoy an array of selections, like kabobs, three kinds of rice, falafel and hummus. There are salads, stews and vegetarian items, too. Reza’s also hosts weekly weekend brunch buffets on Saturdays and Sundays.

Toulabi said the restaurant’s buffets are “fitting” for a place like Evanston, where students and business professionals can quickly stop in for lunch. He sees Reza’s as an alternative to fast food, both in its emphasis on high quality ingredients and customer service.

In addition to its buffets, Reza’s hosts banquets for corporate events, weddings, birthdays and other events. But customers don’t have to be commemorating a milestone to dine at the restaurant.

“We like helping people create memories in their everyday lives and during special occasions,” said Toulabi.

Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston, said Pete Miller’s was “beloved” in Evanston for over 20 years and was performing very well. She said Sonas Hospitality Co., which owned Pete Miller’s, recently shut down many of its restaurants. Coakley described Pete Miller’s as a “super cool place with an old school vibe,” and said it will be missed. However, she has already received numerous emails from residents who are excited about Reza’s coming to town.

The building soon to be home to Reza’s is 12,630 square-feet, according to Kudan Group, a commercial real estate firm. Toulabi said the restaurant will utilize the floorplan to create a bar, tap room, main dining room and lounge. He plans to offer Northwestern students a 20 percent discount and confirmed that Reza’s will offer a delivery service.

McCormick sophomore Selin Cetin recently dined at Reza’s Andersonville location and said the buffet was “great.” She looks forward to going back to the restaurant when it opens downtown.

“Everything I put on my plate was fantastic,” Cetin said. “I’m excited for Reza’s to open in Evanston, since the amount of Middle Eastern restaurants nearby is comparatively lacking.”

Instead of giving tips about what to order at Reza’s, Toulabi has other advice: “Make sure you say, ‘Hi,’ and tell me your name.” He said the reason Reza’s is opening in Evanston is because of its residents, many of whom travel to the restaurant’s other locations and have developed relationships with the staff. Toulabi said he doesn’t forget anyone after meeting them, and looks forward to “taking care” of the Evanston community.

“It’s important that we personalize everyone’s experience at Reza’s,” said Toulabi. “Anyone who comes into the restaurant as a customer should leave as our friend.”

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An earlier version of this article misstated the first name of the owner of Reza’s Restaurant. His name is Ryan Toulabi. The Daily regrets the error.