You might think having 4,000 potential customers across the street would be the best news any business owner could get.
But for Clarence Weaver, who, along with his wife Wendy, owns C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor, it’s still too soon to judge the impact of Evanston Township High School reopening in person across the street.
“This is only day two” that school is back from remote learning, Weaver says. It will take at least a month, he adds, to gauge the impact.
But even if students and teachers do take the short walk across Church Street to buy something, Weaver says “we want to establish our business to be more than just a convenience store for students.”
Weaver says C&W, now in its eighth year, will thrive if it is “community based,” a place where neighbors can come by for fruit, a sandwich, ice cream, or many other items that you could buy at a large grocery store.
“Our goal,” he says, “is to make it known that we’re here for the community, not just for one segment.”
As with many businesses, the coronavirus pandemic was a challenge, to say the least. Weaver says he lost 85% of his foot traffic.
But “to lose the business was not an option,” he adds. So C&W Market had to pivot. An ice cream parlor was added, giving customers a new reason to stop in.
The store also “stocked up on items which people needed during the pandemic.”
And, significantly, C&W Market began “feeding the community,” Weaver says, providing free groceries for 180-200 families every Saturday for the past 70 weeks.
Weaver is proud of all those who have pitched in, from groups and foundations helping to pay for the food, to the “15 people helping every week” to pack and hand out the bags. And that effort will continue, ETHS being open or not.
Right next to C&W, what should be another traffic generator is going in. A sign says Chicago Ringz Around the World is “now hiring,” for a restaurant to fill the former Gyros Planet location.
Across Dodge Avenue, however, at Litehouse Whole Food Grill, take-out and dine-in has temporarily stopped.
Owner Tanisha Ford still has private catered events in the space, and uses the kitchen to cook for her food vending business in area hospitals.
But as with so many others in the hospitality industry, Ford’s has been unable to find workers to staff Litehouse so it can have regular business hours.
She hopes to have a hiring event soon, to get Litehouse back open.
“I’m not giving up,” she says.