The now-vacant Stained Glass restaurant will become Fonda Mexican cuisine.

The Stained Glass restaurant has been closed since early in the pandemic.

The Farmhouse has been closed since Thanksgiving weekend.

In early 2023, you’ll be able to dine in both locations again … but a completely new spot is coming to the former Stained Glass, while the Farmhouse is being rebranded with a different name and approach, but the same ownership.

The vacant Stained Glass, on Benson Street, will turn into Fonda, a Mexican dining establishment quite different from what you might imagine when you think of Mexican food.

A chicken dish planned for Fonda.

“There is nothing Tex-Mex about it,” says owner Michael Lachowicz.

“This is indigenous, genuine Mexican cuisine,” Lachowicz says. “It’s abuela,” which means grandmother in Spanish.

Lachowicz currently has two restaurants in Winnetka, both French. George Tois is a tiny, upscale location. Aboyer, next door, is also French, but larger and less expensive.

Chef Carlos Cahue.

He does not pretend to know much about Mexican food.

“I’m the Polish-Italian guy cooking French food in Winnetka,” he says with a laugh.

So Fonda will be operated by two of Lachowicz’s partners in his George Trois group, Executive Chef Miguel Escobar and General Manager Sergio Angel, both of whom are from Mexico.

The chef at Fonda, Carlos Cahue, is from Mexico as well, and has worked with Lachowicz in Winnetka.

“These guys have deep roots” in that cuisine, Lachowicz says. The menu will be specific to their home areas … regional dishes from Yucatan and/or Michoacan.

“A Memoir of Mexico,” is the restaurant’s theme, food that those running Fonda grew up with.

Lachowicz, who kept his Winnetka restaurants open during the pandemic but “pivoted” to takeout before opening back up for in-person dining, says he had concerns about starting another restaurant now, but decided to do it anyway.

“It’s hard to rattle me,” he says, “but sure, it was concerning. Still, there’s always light. This is about tenacity.”

Lachowicz says he “looked all over” for a place to put Fonda, ultimately deciding on Evanston.

The proximity to Northwestern University, with its potential student, parent, and faculty customer base was a key factor in coming here.

Lachowicz says he expects to hire three dozen employees, and with the ongoing labor shortage in the hospitality field, the large number of students who may be looking for part-time work is another plus.

The rebranded Farmhouse is also looking for employees.

The restaurant, to be called Thomas and Dutch, says it is bringing “A Taste of the Midwest” to the site at the Hilton Orrington Hotel.

The Farmhouse restaurant is being rebranded as Thomas and Dutch.

A job site posting describes Thomas and Dutch as serving “craveable and elevated comfort food…. Service will be smart and friendly, in a space that feels like home.”

Owner T.J. Callahan closed the Farmhouse after Thanksgiving to work on the makeover/rebranding.

But staying in the same spot was important.

“It’s a great location,” Callahan told Evanston Now when he announced the rebranding.

Both Thomas and Dutch and Fonda should open early next year.

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

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