Team Behind Spirit Elephant to Launch Fast-Casual Concept

The popular plant-based eatery on Chicago’s north shore will debut a sister concept, Elephant + Vine.
Team Behind Spirit Elephant to Launch Fast-Casual Concept
Photo: Official
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Spirit Elephant, CD Young’s fully plant-based restaurant and bar on Chicago’s north shore, has plans to bring a ‘little sister concept’ to Evanston and Lincoln Park in spring 2022. Elephant + Vine will offer a fast-casual, plant-based experience with indulgent, craveable dishes as well as ones that hit the healthy mark. These first two locations will be what Young sees as a jumping off point for possible nation-wide expansion.

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“We’re a slightly elevated fast-casual concept, so we still want the space to be inviting for people who want to hang out,” Young told What Now Chicago over a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. Elephant + Vine will make it easy to carry out food items and be quick serve as well.

Spirit Elephant, which opened in Winntka in early 2020, is a full-service restaurant and bar offering “delicious food that benefits people, planet, and all beings who share it.” The vegan eatery has the motto Eat Plants feel beautiful, and Young says that isn’t going anywhere with the new concept. “We will have the same tagline on the wall at both Vines,” she said. “It’s all about how eating plant-based doesn’t just make you feel good in a physical sense, you feel beautiful because you’re having an impact on your community, your planet, by eating food that has a very light footprint.”

“Spirit Elephant is sort of the test kitchen.” Young added. Like its predecessor, Elephant + Vine will aim to serve delicious, craveable dishes, as well as dishes geared towards the health-conscious crowd. You can expect to find some of the dishes you love from Spirit Elephant, along with a few new items in those categories. While Spirit Elephant has become known in part for its strong cocktail program, Elephant + Vine will focus on milkshakes, smoothies, and elevated fountain drinks.

Elephant + Vine will open at 719 Church Street in Evanston, in the space that last housed Andy’s Frozen Custard, as well as in Chicago’s Lincoln Common shopping mall at 2335 N. Lincoln Avenue. “We have big goals. We want to spread across the country, so this is where we’re starting.” The Evanston address will place the eatery adjacent to Northwestern’s campus. “Evanston is just a really progressive community,” Young said, noting her excitement about the location, “We’ve already had a huge pouring out of support from Evanston folks coming up to Winntka.”

Both Elephant + Vine locations should be open by March 2022, and if all goes as planned, they’ll be just the beginning! Find Spirit Elephant online to learn more.

Photo: Official
Photo: Official
Photo: Official

Eve Payne

Eve Payne is a freelance writer with an MFA in poetry from Syracuse University. In 2019, she received the Leonard Brown Prize for her poetry, which has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, The Adroit Journal, Nashville Review, and RHINO.
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