Owner Eddie Lakin readies to cut ribbon at Edzo's Burger Shop. Mayor Daniel Biss looks on.

“Smile and say cheeseburger.”

That spot-on comment from someone in the crowd was heard just before the ribbon cutting at Edzo’s Burger Shop at noon on Friday.

The popular burger joint, on Sherman Avenue, closed in January as COVID-19 ramped back up.

Edzo’s had opened in 2009. When asked if he ever had doubts about coming back, owner Eddie Lakin told Evanston Now, “Yes, for sure.”

But with COVID-related restrictions lifted, and finances rearranged, Lakin said he was thrilled to wecome customers once again.

“It was everything,” he said of Edzo’s. “My life, my existence and my ability to pay my mortgage.”

Not far away, on Church Street, Hokkaido Ramen and Sushi Bar just opened, in the space formerly occupied by a breakfast restaurant that shut down shortly after the pandemic hit in 2020.

New restaurant on Church Street downtown.

And it is not taking Amy Morton long to open a new establishment after her Found Kitchen closed on Chicago Avenue last month. The restaurant’s landlord, hoping to build a high-rise apartment building on the site, did not renew Found’s lease.

But Morton “found” an available space a couple of blocks away, the vacant Next of Kin restaurant on Davis Street.

The new spot is called Le Tour. It opens Thursday, first for dinner, then later adding brunch and lunch.

Le Tour restaurant opens November 17 in the former Next of Kin location.

“Just like life,” Morton told Evanston Now, “everything comes full circle.”

The menu will feature French/Moroccan cuisine. Price points, Morton says, will be “a little higher than Found, but lower than The Barn,” her upscale steak house.

When you consider everything that restaurants went through during the pandemic, it’s amazing that so many either stayed open, or are coming back with their old formats, or with new ones.

Obviously it’s a challenging business, but as Edzo’s Lakin put it, “it’s more than just selling food. There’s a community connection.”

Plus, restaurants are always looking for employees, so that community connection could also include a job.

Sign at new Hokkaido Ramen & Sushi Bar.

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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