Edzo’s Burger Shop returns with a soft reopening, revitalized interior


Astry Rodriguez/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston restaurant Edzo’s Burger Shop returned with a limited menu and hours after pandemic setbacks.

Astry Rodriguez, Reporter

Edzo’s Burger Shop relaunched operations earlier this month following seven months behind closed doors. After closing temporarily in February due to COVID-19 restrictions and slow business with winter weather, the restaurant soft launched a new menu, refurbished interior and new services. 

Founder and owner Eddie Lakin said he decided on a soft reopening with a shortened menu and fewer hours because it was difficult to find reliable staff right away. He wanted to avoid putting too much pressure on his new employees. 

“I didn’t want to overextend (our service) too early and then end up giving people poor service,” Lakin said. “It was a way for us to open, get some reps, and train everybody … It has been so gratifying and rewarding to come back.”

After a few days of successful business, Lakin transitioned back to the full menu — minus the char burger, which used to be cooked to the patron’s specification. Since then, Edzo’s has continued operating with limited hours. 

Evanston resident Per Jacobson said he has frequented Edzo’s since it first opened in 2009 and was excited to have a burger joint in town after mostly seeing hotdog spots. 

Now that Edzo’s is open again, he said he was thrilled to finally eat inside the establishment again.

“I was worried, as I think a lot of people were, because Eddie kind of shut (Edzo’s) down pretty suddenly,” Jacobson said. “I was elated when I saw him post ‘We’re going to do a soft opening,’ and made sure to get over there immediately.”

Katherine Gotsick is the Executive Director of Main-Dempster Mile — a nonprofit that supports businesses from the bustling commercial district where Edzo’s resides. She said several other businesses have also done soft reopenings by limiting their menu, hours of operation and seating areas, among other innovations.

A soft opening is a chance for businesses to test the grounds before fully opening, Gotsick said. For those without corporate support, she said soft openings can be especially helpful because small businesses typically have less support.

“It’s smart,” Gotsick said. “A soft opening is so you can test your menu, your processes. You can test your systems, your hardware.”

In addition to soft-launching its menu, Edzo’s “pandemic-proofed” its interior with a fresh coat of paint, new flooring, a wall to separate the kitchen and dining area and a traffic pattern on the ground to reduce customer physical interactions. Lakin also eliminated the soda fountain machine to reduce contact, instead offering bottled and canned soda.  

Though Lakin said he feels he let people down by being closed for so long, he is glad customers have been gracious about the shop’s return.

“Ninety-nine percent of the customers have come in and said ‘We’re so glad you’re back, we’ve missed you so much,’” Lakin said. “It’s really wonderful to come back and not have them be like, ‘Hey, we’re mad that you were gone’ … it’s really just filled me up.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk

Related Stories: 

Everything Evanston: A year of loss and unity for local businesses

Edzo’s Burger Shop joins national restaurant movement in creating safe spaces for workers, customers

New coffee house Evanston Pour provides a morning and night space for Evanston