Plans for a new building to house revivals of two well-known Evanston restaurants are up for review by the city’s Planning and Development Committee Monday night.

Restaurateur Daniel Kelch plans to open new versions of Lulu’s, which he closed early this year, and Taco Diablo, which burned down last December, in a new building at 1026 Davis St., which would replace the Tom Thumb Hobbies & Crafts shop that’s moving to Niles.

Kelch and property owner Martin Cless are planning a two story building on the 12,000 square foot site.

The east half of the first floor would house both restaurants, each with seating for about 60 customers and a shared kitchen.

The west half of the first floor would contain other retail shops.

The second floor would have a banquet and event space with a 15-foot wide open deck facing the street.

The plans require zoning variations because — like the existing building — the proposed new building would not provide any off-street parking.

The Zoning Board of Appeals recommended approval of the variation request on a 5-0 vote after committee members said there’s plenty of parking in downtown garages and that another open parking lot wouldn’t be desirable downtown.

Kelch has said that he plans to provide valet service for the event space.

The board did condition its approval on not permitting employees to park on the street and to require use of off-street parking by the valet service.

Kelch says the restaurants would operate until 10 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. He says they would have about 70 part-time employees, with three to six more for the event space.

Update 10:35 a.m. 7/15/14: The variations were approved for introduction on the City Council’s consent agenda Monday night, which indicates a high probability that they’ll be given final approval at the council’s July 28 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Excited!

    I miss both of these restaurants so much so I'm excited to hear that they'll both reopen! I think it's great that Evanston is opening new restaurants but it seems like they fall in one of two categories. One, lunch spots for fast dining or two, more expensive fine dining establishments. It would be nice to have both of Dan's gems reopen and have a place to get a delicious/quality meal without the hefty bill of some of the newer places.

    1. Then, open a restaurant

      If you would like "to get a delicious/quality meal without the hefty bill of some of the newer places" then open a restaurant that fills that void you perceive in the restaurant environment in Evanston.

      And please DO NOT ask the City of Evanston for any loans or grants.

      Owning and operating a restaurant is time consuming and very challenging, just ask anyone who runs a restaurant in Evanston or anyplace else.

      Fortunately we have a vibrant restaurant scene in Evanston, but with constantly changing consumer tastes, behaviors and desires there are opportunities for hard working entrepreneurs to create a successful business – Again, without the interference from Evanston City Council.

      Lauren, go ahead and open a restaurant. This is America, the land of opportunity.

      1. You missed the point

        Thomas I don't know what you're talking about. I didn't mention anything about city council or loans or grants. I was simply expressing how excited I was that these two establishments are reopening. Dan is a respected business owner in evanston and my husband and I had the pleasure of getting to know him while dinning at Taco Diablo. I'll leave the restaurant business to the restaurant professionals. Suggesting that I open a restaurant makes it clear that you totally missed the point of my post. 

  2. Praise the Lord!  I’ve missed ’em both!

    Praise the Lord!  I've missed both Lulu's and (especially) Taco Diablo on a daily basis!  Wondering if the upstairs patio thingy would be open just for events, or regularly?  Would love to have a Margarita overlooking Davis St.!  

    Diana Hamann

    The Wine Goddess

  3. Excited!

    Really looking forward to the re-opening of both of these restaurants, especially Taco Diablo! They were delicious and affordable.

  4. Oh, I hope Lulu’s comes back.

    Oh, I hope Lulu's comes back. It's the only restaurant in the entire Chicago area that has closed and that I really miss and think back to. Such good food! More of that, please.

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