More sunshine, warmer weather, and spring break are on their way, so I thought I'd share again the Make It Better piece from last July where I was asked to offer ideas for a perfect staycation in Evanston. Perfect for families!
My suggestions include organizations and businesses that raise up Evanston's Black community and/or focus on increasing racial equity in our city.
Nina’s Perfect Day
Have a leisurely breakfast at either of Curt's Cafe’s two locations. Their apricot scones are amazing, and so is their mission: The restaurant on Central Street helps young men in at-risk situations acquire life and job skills; the Dempster Street location works with women.
After breakfast, browse the aisles at Bookends & Beginnings, Evanston’s independent bookstore owned by Nina Barrett and her husband, Jeff Garrett. (note: tonight they're co-sponsoring an event with Chicago author Alex Kotlowitz about his new book, An American Summer, about gun violence in Chicago).
Head outside to spend a few hours exploring Evanston’s Lakefront. My favorite spots are right around Northwestern’s campus, or farther north at Lighthouse Beach.
When you’re ready to cool off, it’s time for ice cream at C & W Market and Ice Cream Parlor. Clarence Weaver and Wendy Weaver, the store’s community-minded owners, are some of the friendliest people around.
Next, pay a visit to the Shorefront Legacy Center. Founded by Evanstonian Dino Robinson in 1995, Shorefront archives artifacts, photographs, and family memorabilia that depict the lives of African Americans on Chicago’s North Shore.
For lunch, make your way to Prairie Joe's, a funky retro restaurant owned by Aydin Dincer. Eating here is like eating in your coolest friend’s kitchen, and the food is hearty and delicious.
After lunch, pop into Family Focus Evanston for a quick history lesson. Built in 1905, the building holds an enormous historical and present-day significance for Evanston’s black community. It housed the city’s only African American school during the years of segregation and was the first school in Evanston to allow black teachers (you can see a fascinating exhibit about this on the building’s first floor). Before you leave, stop at Noir d'Ebene Chocolat et Patisserie, located in the basement. Owner Shannon Sudduth's tiny “Skye’s Coconut Macaroons” are the best I’ve tasted.
Ready for dinner? Five & Dime is the place. Husband-and-wife team Laura Van Dorf and Dan Kelch serve up eclectic fare and great drinks, and the rooftop deck makes you feel like you’re on vacation. [add these great places for lunch or dinner too: Jennifer's Edibles, Inc, owned by Jennifer Eason; Clare's Corner for great Jamaican, 1827 Emerson; Hecky's Barbecue; Good To Go Jamaican Restaurant on Howard.]
Finally, see a show at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre. Housed in the Noyes Cultural Arts
Center, FJT offers an annual summertime season of African American and African diaspora-centered storytelling. Artistic director is Tim Rhoze (NOTE: FJT's productions are performed in summer, but you CAN attend its upcoming Bruncheon with Carol Moseley Braun and Cheryl Judice on Sunday, March 24 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Levy Center. Dear Evanston is co-sponsoring this event. Tix are $25 each. Go to fjttheatre.com.