Aldermen on Evanston’s Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously Monday night to reject a request from a convicted drug dealer to open a carryout restaurant on Simpson Street in the 5th Ward.

Would-be restaurant owner Robert Crayton in 2005 pleaded guilty to selling crack cocaine to a government informant outside Lincolnwood Elementary School where he worked at the time as a janitor.

He’s also currently facing charges of delivering heroin after an arrest last April.

Melissa Wynne.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said that special uses are a privilege the city can grant at its discretion and that “given Mr. Crayton’s pending legal proceedings,” she didn’t believe the permit should be granted.

Crayton, 40, of 1838 Hovland Court, had sought to turn a vacant building at 1723 Simpson St. into a restaurant and was also seeking city assistance to rehab the building.

The building, in a former incarnation as Ramy’s Foods, had been the centerpiece of a 2010 drug investigation that led to 28 arrests and charges of drug dealing and food stamp fraud at the store.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Insensitive Title

    The title for this article implies Crayton is a drug dealer. Providing no insight into the the conviction of his current alleged charges, and politics of labeling someone by their past crimes aside, the journalistic freedom taken in assuming Crayton is guilty in the title of this article is borderline libel and a sad example of why it is so difficult for convicts to rehabilitate themselves. This man is trying to start a business–give him a break!

    1. Own admission

      Hi Jordan,

      Mr. Crayton, by his own admission in his 2005 case, has been a drug dealer.

      Whether he has since retired from that profession is the subject matter of his current criminal case.

      All that is made quite clear in the story.

      If you think the aldermen should “give him a break” and change their minds about the special use permit, you should get in touch with them.

      You can find their email addresses here.

      — Bill

      1. Wake Up Jordan

        Bill,  I want to credit you for your response to Jordan. I don’t understand how someone can be so clueless with a convicted drug seller as a janitor from a school and then faces drug charges for selling again within 1000 feet of a school. Seems like a pattern and to top it off, wants to open a restaurant at a location that was last used as a drug sale location. Recipe for disaster, or seems like one.  Common sense seems lacking somewhere. Credit to our alderman for making a good decision and not granting special use. 

    2. Maybe…

      Maybe the 80 grams of heroin he was caught selling to an undercover cop is a misunderstanding and he had it for personal use. I am all for giving people second chances, or even third chances in Robert’s case, but at the very least we should let his legal case play out before being issued a special use permit. He very well be cleared of all charges, but there is also a chance he goes to jail. Also, if I remember correctly he doesn’t even have the necessary funds to open this business and needs grants to get it going. Seems like too much risk here. Nice descision alderman. 

    3. Give the city and its citizens a break!

      All the lives this guy has ruined by selling drugs. I am sure those victims did not get a break from Mr. Crayton. And with all the financial cost he has incurred on the city by running his criminal enterprise and putting people’s lives at risk, but you still feel that he deserves a “break”. Surely, you can’t be that biased.

  2. Thank You Alderman
    This was a slam dunk common sense rejection of a horrible business prospect. My goodness. Did those complaining about the this decision even read the article? The previous business at this site had been the center of a drug dealing bust. The applicant has a pending drug arrest case from APRIL. and has a previous arrest from drug dealing IN AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. This could be an SNL skit. Seriously. A good “Really” skit on SNL with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler.

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