Council approves new restaurant on Howard Street


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) at a council meeting. Rainey

Samantha Handler, City Editor

Aldermen at a Monday City Council meeting approved a lease for a new Howard Street restaurant, taking over Cafe Coralie’s former space.

Aldermen voted 8-1 to authorize the lease, with only Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) voting against the measure. Marcos Rivera, the owner of Libertad Restaurant in Skokie, and his business partner Arturo Orozco Jr. will open Estación at 633 Howard St.

The Evanston Police Department vacated its outpost at the location in November 2017, and Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) told The Daily at the time that the area had come a “long, long way” since the outpost first opened in 1987.

Cafe Coralie opened in that space three months after EPD left, but closed July 7. Rainey said at the council meeting she is excited to have a “reputable, exciting, well-known and very profitable” business set up in Evanston. According to city documents, Estación will fulfil the “long desired goal” of an all-day restaurant concept on Howard Street.

“This is a very exciting prospect for us and for Howard street,” Rainey said. “It’s really saving the day. We did have a failure.”

Rivera told the city’s Economic Development Committee in July that he is looking to open Estación by New Year’s Day, and plans to serve both spicy and comfort food. He added that he is excited to come to Howard Street, which is where his father opened his first restaurant years ago.

Rainey added that Rivera plans to eventually buy the 633 Howard St. building. Mayor Steve Hagerty questioned the lease agreement with the city, which said Rivera’s rent payments will be used to offset the appraised value on the building when he goes to purchase it.

Rainey said Rivera would have preferred to purchase the building now instead of renting but that the city was hesitant after refusing ownership to others. She added that his business will pay city taxes on the building, which Rainey said the previous owner had not done. Rainey said the building has always been on the tax rolls, but “it’s just that no one has paid taxes.”

The lease stipulates a $2,500 monthly rent with the option to purchase the building with six months notice within the first 36 months.

Rivera is also opening a restaurant in the former Curt’s Cafe location on Dempster Street. According to city documents, the Dempster Street restaurant will be called Zentli and will operate as a full service restaurant “with a focus on Mexican culture.”

Rivera’s restaurant in Skokie serves small plates of Latin American cuisine with a modern approach, drawing inspiration from family recipes and traditional ingredients, according to its website. Libertad’s website says its menu “encourages and exemplifies the meaning of Libertad — freedom — to explore.”

“I just think Evanston should feel really blessed that we got two great restaurants from one purveyor,” Rainey said. “So, thank you very much to the Libertad family.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @sn_handler