Pasta Luna remains one of Evanston’s last ghost kitchens


Daily file photo by Allie Goulding

Pasta Luna is a takeout and delivery restaurant offering customizable and pre-assembled pasta dishes.

Avani Kalra, Assistant City Editor

At the start of the pandemic, Scott Anderson, Prairie Moon’s marketing director, was at a loss. 

Anderson was considering opening a second restaurant centered around Italian food, but Prairie Moon couldn’t even serve its own patrons indoors. He decided they would still open an Italian concept, Pasta Luna, but this time from inside Prairie Moon’s kitchen. The restaurant wouldn’t have to invest in a new kitchen or staff but could benefit economically. 

Pasta Luna is a takeout and delivery restaurant offering customizable and pre-assembled pasta dishes. Anderson said the experience is built around the company’s motto: “Pasta Fasta.” Patrons receive their pasta quickly and in a recyclable classic Chinese takeout box.

Customers ordering food cooked in Prairie Moon’s kitchen can choose from two menus –– Prairie Moon’s regular American Regional Fare, or the Pasta Luna menu.

Pasta Luna is one of Evanston’s last ghost kitchens. 

“I first heard about the ghost kitchen model from the CEO of GrubHub, and that was completely shocking,” Anderson said. “I didn’t fully understand it. When the pandemic came, I thought, ‘This might work for us.’” 

Ghost kitchens are restaurants that operate through an entirely takeout and delivery model. Often, the kitchens have no physical seating or operate out of another restaurant’s kitchen. 

The online food delivery services market is growing and restaurants like Prairie Moon found success in operating takeout-only while dine-in was closed in Illinois, according to USA Today

Farmhouse Evanston implemented ghost kitchens in 2020, all of which closed last summer.  General Manager Philip Cocco said the restaurant opened a barbeque concept, a mac and cheese service and an Italian to-go option to help make up for revenue lost while indoor dining was closed. 

“We had to buy different ingredients and cook different recipes,” Cocco said. “You’re basically setting up three different lines in the kitchen. When the restaurant got busy again over the summer, we didn’t have the room.” 

Bob’s Pizza began as a ghost kitchen operating out of Whiskey Thief Tavern and has since taken over the tavern’s space. 

General Manager Mark Hayashi said Bob’s originally hoped to refresh the tavern’s menu and offer high quality pizza. When restaurants reopened after a second shutdown, Hayashi said the pizza business was successful enough that his team decided to shift Bob’s into the restaurant space. 

Now, it is a popular spot for Northwestern students and a sit-down establishment with a full bar. 

“At first it was Whiskey Thief Tavern serving Bob’s Pizza,” Hayashi said. “Then we married the two concepts for a little bit and finally decided to shift to 100% Bob’s Pizza.” 

Despite changes in other Evanston ghost kitchens, Anderson decided to keep Pasta Luna in operation as a ghost kitchen even after indoor dining reopened. Anderson said that was in part because the kitchen services a different customer base, so it still provides a second stream of revenue. 

Anderson’s team worked to differentiate the ghost kitchen from its host restaurant, creating a new logo and motto. 

“We wanted to be very affordable,” he said. We were concerned about everyone surviving COVID-19 financially, so we wanted to give our customers a completely new third option.” 

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Twitter: @avanidkalra

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