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.”