You probably could not have blamed the owners of Reza’s Restaurant for pulling the plug on their downtown Evanston location.

The Persian/Mediterranean dining spot on Sherman Avenue was supposed to welcome customers on March 20, 2020.

But that was the day Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered all non-essential businesses to close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our opening day was the day that they closed everything down,” says restaurant owner Ryan Toulabi.

At first, like so many others, Toulabi figured the shutdown would last “maybe two weeks.”

But Toulabi and others in charge then waited patiently until COVID-19 eased, and indoor dining restrictions were lifted.

“We held out, held out and held out,” Toulabi says.

The restaurant is in the old Pete Miller’s steakhouse location. That venue’s closure left a large empty space downtown.

Now, Toulabi says that Reza’s “will bring a lot of life” to the area.

In addition to their dining menu and bar in the main part of the restaurant, there is also Reza’s Tap Room which will serve lunch, primarily wraps, every day.

In addition, within a couple of weeks, the Tap Room will also have an array of “pour your own” beer and wines, 32 different choices, Toulabi says.

The Tap Room will also have live music and belly dancing.

Evanston will be Reza’s third location. The original opened in Andersonville in 1983. They are also in Oakbrook.

Toulabi says the Evanston site will eventually have fifty employees, a large boost for an economy which is finally starting to come back from COVID.

“We’re very, very excited,” Toulabi says.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.