Restaurant planned for long-vacant Simpson property


A long-vacant building on Simpson Street at the edge of Twiggs Park in Evanston could soon become the site of a new restaurant.

The Design and Project Review Committee is scheduled Wednesday to consider a request to rezone the property from R3 to B1 and grant variances needed to transform it into a restaurant with carryout service.

Applicants Vira Yenakly and Rita Kats have submitted plans that call a restaurant with 13 seats inside and a patio at the rear of the building that could provide seating for another 40 patrons.

A view of the side of the transformed building that would face the park.

The property has been vacant for most of the past two decades.

An October 2016 image of the buiding from Google Maps.

In 2006 then Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, sought to have the city acquire the building to expand Twiggs Park, but failed to get support from other aldermen to make the purchase.

The following year the building was acquired for $235,000 by Peter Fleps, who hoped to turn it into a design studio and wood shop for his business, Flepspace LLC.

Those plans were opposed by some neighborhood residents, who objected to the rezoning and said they feared the the building would end up being turned into a retail store. The neighbors also echoed the suggestion from Holmes that the city should buy the building, tear it down and add the land to the park. The City Council ultimately denied the rezoning request.

The property had previously been zoned B1 for business use, but that zoning had been changed to R3 a few years before Fleps purchased it.

Yenakly and Kats acquired the building from Fleps last October for $70,000.

Kats previously owned the Bread ‘n’ Bowl restauraunt in Niles which drew favorable reviews on Yelp when it was open from 2008 to about 2010.

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