Wilmette, News

Ghost kitchen inside Valley Lodge to appear with its own space

A longtime favorite dining destination in downtown Wilmette will likely soon be adding what it hopes will be its signature side dish. 

Wilmette’s Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously recommended approval during its Wednesday, June 5 meeting of a request from Valley Lodge Tavern to operate a carry-out/delivery restaurant from within its existing space. 

Bill Stavrou, the owner of Valley Lodge Tavern, addressed zoning commissioners during the meeting to explain the restaurant’s new Foodhaul concept, which he described in a letter to officials as an “innovative venture” that will enhance the eatery’s offerings. 

Foodhaul, per Stavrou, offers pre-made signature meals from celebrity chefs that are then sold to customers. 

In the letter submitted to the zoning board, Stavrou called Foodhaul a “dynamic fusion of popular meal delivery services like Factor and Cookunity, but with the added flexibility of on-demand availability.” He added that the service represents chefs like Fabio Viviani and Tiffani Faison. 

Stavrou told commissioners that Foodhaul has already been running in the form of a ghost kitchen out of the valley lodge for nearly five years. This model has led to a delivery-only operation, he said. 

The proposal in front of the zoning board Wednesday night will allow Foodhaul to have its own dedicated brick-and-mortar space. Stavrou said that Foodhaul will operate out of the space within Valley Lodge Tavern that is currently used as the private room. 

Stavrou called that space “underutilized,” while noting that it encompasses roughly 400 square feet or a total of approximately 10 percent of the Valley Lodge restaurant.

“We just think that Wilmette will be a great first place for our physical location,” Stavrou told the board. “The proximity to the train and walking traffic from the train is a great pickup spot for it as well. As the dining scene of this village has become so chef-driven … we think we fit right into that and add value to both ourselves and our neighbors.” 

Under the deliver-only model, Foodhaul has been doing about 15-20 deliveries per day, Stavrou said. The restaurant anticipates going up to about 25-30 with the new operation space. 

Hours of operation for Foodhaul will not mirror Valley Lodge as the anticipation right now is for it to be open from noon until 7 or 8 p.m. Patrons will be able to enter the dedicated Foodhaul space through a separate entrance than the main Valley Lodge entrance. The costs of the pre-made meals, which are prepared off-premise, are between $18-25, Stavrou said. 

Foodhaul officials are planning on opening a location in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood as well. 

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martin carlino
Martin Carlino

Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.

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