Sweetgreen’s fast-casual, casual restaurant is now open for business, and is part of a major revitalization of a highly visible building in downtown Evanston.
The salad and cereal restaurant is located on the first floor of the 1948 Fountain Square building, which is undergoing a complete renovation, top to bottom and inside and out.
The remainder of the six-storey building is for offices, more than half of which has already been rented. The office floors are expected to open later this year.
Sweetgreen is a Los Angeles-based national chain. Local restaurant manager Roberto Ayala said Evanston’s location is Sweetgreen’s 228th outlet, which focuses on “all kinds of natural and organic salads” and local produce. Ayala said the Evanston restaurant has more than 40 employees.
The company was founded by three college graduates in Washington, D.C. in 2007, and has taken off over the years.
“We want to be the Nike, the Apple, or the Spotify of food,” INC magazine quotes co-founder Jonathan Neiman as saying.
Evanston might just like Sweetgreen to be a good place for a quick lunch, and to dock the first floor of a building that has been somewhat less beautiful in recent years.
The city’s director of economic development, Paul Zalmzak, who was present to cut the ribbon on Tuesday, said the structure was “in the doldrums,” and the new owners, Shapack Partners along with Reimagined Ventures, “were really able to invest a lot in the renovation.” ”
The previous owner had put the building up for sale for $7 million.
The revitalization adds large windows, a new, modern floor plan, and other features including moving the elevator core.
“Moving the elevator is a huge task,” Zalmezak added.
While the rehabilitated building will add offices to the business center with plenty of vacancies, Zalmzak said, “This additional space will not change the market significantly.”
Zalmezak said the Fountain Square building is a “boutique show” for small tenants, and is not aimed at large businesses.
The front door for office tenants of 1601 Sherman was moved to the other side of the building in Orington. The structure was renamed in 1616 Orrington, as part of the transformation.
Downtown Evanston is slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, and many employees are still working from home.
“Things are consistent,” Zalmezak explained. ‘Office workers are not back yet’ in droves.
Downtown has 2 million square feet of office space, Zalmzak said, and the as yet unreleased portion of the Fountain Square structure is only about 14,000.
By the way, the Fountain Square building began as a Rothschild department store, and then was converted into offices and retail stores, including World of Beer.
Now, you can say it’s World of Salad.