Winnetka’s Spirit Elephant to launch new concept in nearby communities
A standalone for two years, Spirit Elephant is about to lead a herd.
The ownership group behind the Winnetka restaurant, Wild Things LLC, is opening two more plant-based restaurants in the coming months.
Wild Things CEO CD Young said Elephant and Vine — a quick-service concept — will debut in Evanston in March and Lincoln Park in June.
“We have enjoyed a lot of support and positivity from folks visiting (Spirit Elephant) from all over,” Young said. “We were very encouraged and anxious to spread more plant-based love and decided to launch a new division.”
With its creative and colorful vegan dishes, Spirit Elephant has earned a loyal and vast following since opening at 924 Green Bay Road in Winnetka in January 2020.
Young said that Spirit Elephant’s goal is to create good food that is a destination for food lovers, not just vegans.
“Undeniably our success is because it is simply delicious and unique food and not just a place where folks go when they want to eat plant-based,” she said. “… To really go to that next level it just has to be a place that people crave and want to go.”
That mantra — and much of the food — will be carried over to Elephant and Vine.
No doubt, Young said, the popular cauliflower wings will be served at the new spot, but Elephant and Vine will also feature a “no clucks” handbreaded chicken sandwich, as well as bowls, salads, shakes, smoothies and plenty more.
“We want to hit both those folks who are in a comfort-food mood and a health-food mood,” she said. “We do look at it like a mood” and Elephant and Vine can satisfy both.
The “elevated” quick-service format is different from Spirit Elephant, which is a full-service restaurant. At Elephant and Vine, guests will order at the counter in what Young called a “lovely environment.”
While cocktails are a signature at Spirit Elephant, Elephant and Vine will not serve alcohol to start.
Both new locations will be near college campuses — Northwestern University in Evanston and DePaul University in Lincoln Park. She expects a majority of the business to be takeout and delivery.
With this concept, Young believes Vine, which signifies a tie between all the restaurants, can stretch near and far.
“Vine will be dotted across the country; that is the goal,” she said. “All connected by plant-based love.”
Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319