Evanston staple The Lucky Platter to open grab-and-go expansion


Photo courtesy of Derek Gaspar

The Platter Pantry, which is directly connected to The Lucky Platter dining room is expected to open to the public in mid to late February.

Wendy Klunk, Reporter

An Evanston staple is about to get funkier, fresher and faster.

Derek Gaspar, owner of The Lucky Platter, is prioritizing his staff’s wellbeing and restaurant sustainability with the launch of The Platter Pantry, a new grab-and-go section that will serve a variety of unique and local products.

The pantry will include some basic produce, soups, salads, niche snacks, unique drinks and frozen meals, along with some of the diner’s staples, namely their featured breakfast pastries — apricot cheese flakies. Additionally, Gaspar is excited to feature outside brands, including Kombucha Brava and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.

Gaspar plans to open the pantry in mid to late February in a build-out expansion, which is complete. He hopes the pantry will not only benefit the community, but also allow his staff to work more hours as the pandemic continues to take a toll on the restaurant industry.

“Evanston has a lot of progressive people who want to support local (businesses),” Gaspar said. “We were really trying to listen to the community and see what they are looking for, and I think this is what that is.”

While Gaspar says the last few months have not been easy, he is grateful for regular customers whose business has allowed the diner to stay open. He hopes the pantry will not only keep the regulars coming back, but also generate publicity and expand the customer base.

Evanston resident Deborah Linder said the grab-and-go style pantry will make a great addition to the south Evanston restaurant scene.

“My husband used to live in an apartment building right around there,” she said. “He would have really benefited from that, just being able to go down and get something good instead of having to do takeout.”

A new pantry is not the only change to occur at The Lucky Platter as a result of the pandemic. While they are known by many as a breakfast spot, the diner has focused more heavily on dinner takeout, and in summer 2020, they opened an outdoor patio to encourage a safer dining environment.

Manager Brendan Johnson said although the past few months have been a significant adjustment for staff, a supportive workplace environment has made it all possible.

“We all came together to fill a bunch of different roles,” Johnson said. “I was no longer just a manager, servers were no longer just servers.”

Johnson has contributed to making sure the pantry will be fresh and original, as well as uphold the image The Lucky Platter has built in Evanston over the past nearly 30 years.

In the weeks before opening, Johnson, Gaspar and the rest of the team are sorting out small details and finishing the product curation process.

“This is the time where it’s all gonna really come together, the home stretch, and we’re all getting really excited,” Gaspar said.

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Twitter: @WKlunk

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