Wilmette, Community

From Lad & Lassie to breakfast and lunch: Restaurant planned for vacant Wilmette building

Local culinary artists Jordana and Garrett VanBergen are in the midst of finalizing plans to purchase the longtime home of Lad & Lassie children’s boutique, which closed in February of 2020, and convert it into EvaDean’s Restaurant and Cafe.

Jordana told The Record that EvaDean’s hopes to open in mid-2023 and will feature a bakery on the right half of the site and a breakfast-lunch-brunch eatery on the opposite side. 

“It’s a little scary. That building needs a lot of love,” she said. “It is a very big project, but we are very excited.”

While the building’s sale has yet to close, a purchasing agreement is pending, according to the VanBergens as well as a representative from Connor Max LLC, the property’s owner. 

Village of Wilmette officials said they have yet to receive any formal documentation for EvaDean’s but are aware of the pending sale and restaurant plans. 

While EvaDean’s will be the first venture into restaurant ownership for the VanBergens, both Garrett and Jordana have plenty of professional culinary experience.

Garrett VanBergen is the executive chef at Farmhouse Evanston, a “farm to tavern” restaurant open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.

Jordana VanBergen is a Wilmette native and pastry chef. For the past 10 years, she has worked at Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, which is owned and operated by her father, Jory Downer. Her grandfather, Guy Downer, was a baker who purchased Bennison’s in 1967. Her grandmother was also a baker. Her name was EvaDean.

Jordana said the couple has been looking at locations in the area to open their own restaurant and settled on the spot in downtown Wilmette. 

“Downtown Wilmette has become very cool,” she said. “Much more than when I was young. … You drive through downtown Wilmette, it’s bustling. There is way more going on down there.”

A major draw to the building for the VanBergens was the possibility of using a portion of Veteran’s Park, a small public space abutting the building to the east, for outdoor dining.

While use of the park would need formal approval, the Village of Wilmette would also like to see the building’s occupant use part of the park, Braiman said.

Garrett VanBergen will be the head chef on the restaurant side, while Jordana will lead the bakery. Garrett’s speciality, she said, is farm-to-table-style cuisine with specials that rotate with the season. 

The VanBergens also will pursue a liquor license from the Village in order to serve alcohol — such as wine and cocktails, like bloody marys — with lunch and brunch.

In downtown Wilmette, EvaDean’s will be the third breakfast location, joining Hotcakes around the corner on Wilmette Avenue and Fuel on the north end of the Metra station on Washington Court. Beloved morning spot Walker Bros. Original Pancake House is just outside the Village Center on Green Bay Road.

The area also features other bakeries, such as St. Roger Abbey French Organic Patisserie, Panera Bread and Lawrence Dean’s, as well as incoming Buck Russell’s Bakery and Sandwich Shop.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

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

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