The downtown diner Clarke’s Off Campus has closed after 37 years of serving college students and Evanston residents.

Originally located at 720 Clark St., the restaurant moved to a larger space at 804 Davis St. in 2019, only to face closure for portions of 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Owner Yolanda Ewing told Evanston Now’s Jeff Hirsh when the restaurant reopened in April 2021 that only the federal payroll protection program had saved the business during the pandemic, but that she was hoping the recent addition of a liquor license would help it survive into the future.

Update 1/6/22: Ewing says an injury was another factor, in addition to the pandemic, in her decision to close the restaurant..

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Again, people are going to blame Evanston, the economy, 👨‍💻 , anything at all! except come to terms that the food at Clarke’s was awful and the service slow.

    Even when the economy is booming the restaurant business is hard and places open and close. Clarke’s was the second or third restaurant in that location to go under in six years. It happens, quit hyperventilating.

  2. Sure, we can blame the closing on bad food and poor service, but the broader issue is the fact that Evanston has totally lost its “destination” status for dining. This pattern of restaurants closing began long before the pandemic.

    It appears the only successful restaurants are those run by successful (and in some cases wealthy) owners who can leverage the financial success at their other concepts, often located outside of Evanston.

    Where are all of the condo and apartment dwellers in Evanston eating out? Perhaps at establishments in other suburbs or Chicago where better quality choices abound and a greater sense of safety often exists?

    Yes, the Clarke’s location has seen a lot of turnover, once again part of the bigger issue here. If a restaurant can’t make a go of it in the dead center of Evanston (pun intended), this should raise all kinds of red flags for not only prospective restaurant owners but also for City officials and residents.

    1. Lucky Platter. Koi. Prairie Moon. Blind Faith Cafe. Peckish Pig. Tratatoria D.O.C. Oceanique. Campagola. La Principal. Tapas Barcelona. Celtic Knot. Five and Dime.

      Twelve restaurants before Church Street, off the top of my head. Your argument doesn’t really hold water.

  3. I am saddened to learn of the closing of Clarke’s. Yolanda Ewing has been such a fine, supportive member of the Evanston business community, and has managed a wonderful restaurant.
    I wish her well, hoping the noted injury is short lived.
    Best of everything, fellow feminist!
    Gretchen Brewster

  4. We moved here only 5 months ago. I gave that restaurant 3 shots before giving up on them. Each time, the service was unbearably slow, the last time I almost walked out because I couldn’t wait much longer. And it wasn’t because the place was packed. It was mismanaged. You can’t have bad service if you’re gonna serve average food. Not a good combination.

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