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Former Atomix Coffee Owner Planning Vegan Sandwich Shop in Avondale

Adam Paul and Alan Leeking hope Moonlight Vulture helps satisfy late-night hunger.

Adam Paul and Alan Leeking, owners of Moonlight Vulture
Adam Paul and Alan Leeking, owners of Moonlight Vulture
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Finding quality late-night food presents a challenge for most people, but it's even harder for vegans and vegetarians. Adam Paul likens that process to scavenging, like a vulture circling overhead and wondering if soups are really vegetarian or if french fries are fried in animal fat. That's how he and his partner came up with the concept for Moonlight Vulture, a late-night sandwich shop he hopes to open in May at 2889 N. Milwaukee Ave. They've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help with a $10,000 goal.

Paul also ran Atomix Coffee Shop in West Town and Life on Mars, a vegan restaurant in Logan Square. Alan Leeking is Paul's partner and isn't vegan. As an effort to broaden the cafe's healthy appeal, they'll also serve seafood items, perhaps with crab and shrimp. There's also dairy and non-dairy options. They're still developing the menu that will include three different vegan burgers, baked french fries, vegan chili and soups and salads. Paul said he wants to feature veggies, as seitan can fatigue diners at vegetarian spots. But Paul's not just catering to the vegan community.

"When I ran Life on Mars, I noticed the people who really enjoyed the place were the people from the neighborhood," he said.

Paul hesitates in describing the interior as a diner, but they did secure a few booths and tables from Ed Debevic's after that River North landmark closed. The space is about 1,400 square feet, and they'll have room for about 30 inside. Unlike some militant vegans who have other ideas about what healthy eating means, Moonlight Vulture will allow alcohol as a BYO. The idea began as a waffle shop, but eventually evolved to hot and cold sandwiches. If successful, Paul hopes to bring back those waffles for a Sunday brunch.

Earlier this month, news of Karyn Calabrese's (Karyn's Raw, Karyn's On Green) legal troubles made waves in the vegan community in Chicago, including an assortment of ethical allegations. Paul doesn't want to dwell on negatives.

"I guess that's why I'm a bit quieter about it," Paul said. "I'm definitely vegan and that's not going to change, but it's not lie on this sword...that we have vegan food and everyone has to eat vegan food. That would be great, but I think in my business unfortunately if people aren't treated fair or correctly, they are detrimental for the group."