As the pandemic tore the restaurant industry apart in the spring of 2020, Eden, West Loop’s farm-to-table restaurant, struggled. With COVID canceling private events and suspending indoor dining, Jodi Fyfe and Devon Quinn closed their restaurant in August 2020. Now, nearly two years later, the couple are ready to reload with a polished concept in a new piece. The restaurant, one of the most anticipated openings of the year, has opening dates: Daytime service will begin Monday, May 16 with dinner beginning Wednesday, May 25, just south of the southeast corner of California and from Roscoe to Avondale.
Supply chain issues delayed the opening of the restaurant. The Avondale space also serves as the new headquarters for Fyfe and his team at Paramount Events, one of the city’s most popular restaurant operations.
Powered by Culinary Director Quinn’s garden and greenhouse, the reborn Eden is an all-day dining restaurant with coffee, breakfast burritos and sandwiches, and morning and afternoon pastries. They will transform into a full-time restaurant in the evenings and those edible herbs and flowers outside will be put to good use in the cocktail program.
The space, which blends West Coast and European design elements, includes a 100-seat dining room, two private g-spaces with seating for 20 and 30, and a bar with seating for 20. Fyfe says that during the day, the space will bring a home-from-home Soho vibe. There will be no membership, but she wants visitors to feel free to linger and finish their work, set up meetings and catch up with friends. They can use space in Avondale without having to park in West Loop.
Mornings will include coffee, tea and smoothies. They will serve eight cocktails and a few non-alcoholic options. Natural wines from winegrowers will be honoured. Eden will also serve coffee from Brewpoint, a suburban coffee roaster run by women. Drinks will include options for outdoor enjoyment as there is a patio with pergola opening soon. Think frozen daiquiris, negroni and maybe frosé. Eden is also working on a lager in conjunction with Great Central Brewing Company.
Eden brought back chef Miles Schaefer who worked at the West Loop site before leaving for the 90th Meridian, a downtown location of the Fifty/50 Restaurant Group. As with most cafes, the menu is designed to be flexible. Small plates are satisfying as snacks, like deli meats. Order a couple and there’s enough for a hearty meal. The sandwiches will feature smoked meats on site — the morning bacon will also be salted on site. Schaefer is working on a French dip and the rest of the menu, but larger entrees will come out of what has become the gold standard around Chicago restaurants. Yes, Eden is equipped with a wood oven. The bread will be baked on site.
With the space tied to a restoration operation, Eden enjoys a labor advantage. Schaefer says he can always borrow catering staff if the restaurant kitchen needs an extra helping hand. It’s another way to tackle the pandemic which has seen many restaurants and bars understaffed.
Avondale is a new frontier for Fyfe who admits she didn’t know the area very well. The space’s proximity to the Chicago River, near Guild Row, Metropolitan Brewery and soon to be Thattu, has already put the area on the map for those in the restaurant industry. Away from the river, Doug Sohn’s coated meats made Hot Doug a destination, and now Café Tola continues in its place.
“If you have good food, they will come,” Fyfe says, bragging about how welcoming the community has been. The terrace will be suitable for dogs. Look for special treats.
When they were looking for a new space, Fyfe wasn’t looking for a new home for Eden, but the chance to build a 25,000 square foot campus was too good to pass up. Quinn moved her garden from West Loop to Avondale where it grows indoors. In a few weeks, when the temperatures rise, he will move his plants outside. It has an assortment of herbs inside including one that tastes like fish. The idea is to use the plant as a base for a vegan fish sauce. The Garden of Eden gives the restaurant an edge with the ability to give dishes a touch of local flavor that no restaurant can match. It’s also a cost saver, says Quinn, noting that the price of everything, even herbs and flowers, has skyrocketed over the past two years.
Quinn grew up in Michigan and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology. Supply is important to him and they have established relationships with suppliers like Nichols Farm, Iron Creek Farm and Froggy Meadow Farms. Its 20-by-28-foot greenhouse has the potential to become an educational attraction. The restaurant is near Lane Tech High School and DePaul College Prep. Quinn hopes to attract students: “The more I can teach, the better,” he says.
Stay tuned for more coverage as opening day draws closer.
Eden, 2734 W. Roscoe Street, scheduled to open May 16.