As the pandemic tore through the restaurant industry in spring 2020, Eden, the West Loop farm-to-table restaurant, struggled. With COVID canceling private events and suspending indoor dining, Jodi Fyfe and Devon Quinn closed their restaurant in August 2020. Now, almost two years later, the couple is ready to reload with a tweaked concept in a new neighborhood. The restaurant, one of the more anticipated openings of the year has opening dates: Daytime service will debut on Monday, May 16 with dinner starting on Wednesday, May 25, just south the southeast corner of California and Roscoe in Avondale.
Supply chain issues have delayed the opening of the restaurant. The Avondale space also serves as the new headquarters for Fyfe and her team at Paramount Events, one of the city’s most popular catering operations.
Powered by chief culinary officer Quinn’s garden and greenhouse, the reborn Eden is an all-day restaurant with coffee, breakfast burritos and sandwiches, and pastries during the mornings and afternoons. They’ll morph to a full-time restaurant at night and those herbs and edible flowers outside will be put to good use in the cocktail program.
The space, which blends West Coast and European design elements, includes a 100-seat dining room, two private g spaces with capacities of 20 and 30, and a bar with seats for 20. Fyfe says during the day the space will bring a Soho House vibe. There won’t be memberships, but she wants visitors to feel free to linger and to finish work, to set up meetings, and to catch up with friends. They can make use of the space in Avondale without fending for parking in West Loop.
Mornings will feature coffee, tea, and smoothies. They’ll serve eight cocktails and a few non-alcoholic options. Natural wines from female wine producers will be featured. Eden will also serve coffee from Brewpoint, a suburban-based roaster that’s led by women. The drinks will include options for outdoor enjoyment as there’s a patio with pergola that will soon open. Think frozen daiquiris, negroni and perhaps frosé. Eden is also working on a collaboration lager with Great Central Brewing Company.
Eden brought back chef Miles Schaefer who worked at the West Loop location before leaving for 90th Meridian, a downtown venue from Fifty/50 Restaurant Group. As with most cafes, the menu is built for flexibility. Small plates are satisfying as snacks, such as charcuterie. Order a couple and there’s enough for a hearty meal. The sandwiches will feature meats smoked in house — the morning bacon will also be cured on site. Schaefer is working on a French dip and the rest of the menu, but larger entrees will come out of what’s become the gold standard around Chicago restaurants. Yes, Eden is equipped with a wood-burning oven. Bread will be baked on premises.
Since the space is linked to a catering operation, Eden enjoys an advantage when it comes to labor. Schaefer says he can always borrow staff from the catering operation if the restaurant’s kitchen needs an extra hand. It’s another way to combat the pandemic which has seen low staffing at many restaurants and bars.
Avondale is a new frontier for Fyfe who admits that she wasn’t very familiar with the area. The space’s proximity to the Chicago River, near Guild Row, Metropolitan Brewery, and soon Thattu, have already put the area on the map for those in the restaurant industry. Away from the river, Doug Sohn’s encased meats made Hot Doug’s a destination, and now Cafe Tola continues in its place.
“If you have good food, they will come,” Fyfe says, touting how welcoming the community has been. The patio will be dog friendly. Look for special treats.
When they were looking for a new space, Fyfe wasn’t looking for a new home for Eden, but the chance to build a 25,000-square-foot campus was too good to pass up. Quinn has moved his garden from West Loop to Avondale where it’s been growing indoors. In a few weeks, when the temperatures rise, he’ll transfer his plants outside. He’s got an assortment of herbs inside including one that tastes like fish. The idea is to use the plant as the base for a vegan fish sauce. Eden’s garden gives the restaurant an edge with the ability to give dishes a punch from home-grown aromatics that no restaurant can match. It’s also a cost saver, Quinn says, noting the price of everything, even herbs and flowers, has skyrocketed during the last two years.
Quinn grew up in Michigan, and he earned a bachelor’s studying biology. Sourcing is important to him and they’ve built relationships with vendors like Nichols Farm, Iron Creek Farm, and Froggy Meadow Farms. His 20-foot by 28-foot greenhouse has the potential to become an educational attraction. The restaurant is near both Lane Tech High School and DePaul College Prep. Quinn hopes to attract students: “The more I can teach, the better,” he says.
Stay tuned for more coverage as opening day grows closer.
Eden, 2734 W. Roscoe Street, scheduled for a May 16 opening.