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David Lipschutz, Blind Faith Cafe

It began in 1979 with three people who didn’t know each other, but within two short years, would create what has become an Evanston landmark — the Blind Faith Cafe.

· Restaurants
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David Lipschutz, Owner

Tell us about Blind Faith.

Established in 1979, Blind Faith is a certified green restaurant that has been transforming the way people enjoy vegetarian cuisine for more than thirty years. Our globally inspired menus rotate seasonally reflecting our dedication to exceptional food and outstanding service.

As a certified green restaurant we are committed to a healthier, more sustainable environment. Our commitment to environmentally responsible business practices include:

  • Sourcing Sustainable & Organic Foods
  • Composting Kitchen Waste
  • Conserving Energy & Water
  • Recycling Cooking Oils
  • Providing Compostable Products
  • Reducing Waste through Recycling
  • Offering 100% Vegetarian Foods

We take pride in sharing our commitment to your well-being and look forward to serving you.

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525 Dempster Street, Evanston, IL 60202

What's the origin story? How did Blind Faith begin?

This is the story of Blind Faith as told on its website:

It all started in the fall of 1978 when Ivan Newell, a philosophy student, traveled from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Evanston, Illinois, to attend Northwestern University. He and his black Labrador retriever arrived in his VW bus the day before classes started, and he went looking for a room to rent.

Fran Welch, a longtime Evanston resident, had recently divorced and received the family house in the settlement, along with the couple’s yellow Labrador retriever. With a mortgage still to pay, she put a notice up at Northwestern for a room to rent. Ivan saw Fran’s notice and rented the room. The two shared many interests — including their love of dogs — and hit it off immediately. Several months later, Ivan moved again — this time, from the rented room into Fran’s room. Fran and Ivan had fallen in love.

In the spring of 1979, Ivan quit school, and he and Fran decided to open a vegetarian restaurant. They had very little money, and even less experience running a restaurant.

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Fran, Ivan, and their only employee, Chris Hendricks, worked breakfast, lunch, and dinner for six weeks. The restaurant was getting positive feedback from the community, but its owners were wearing themselves out. A mutual friend introduced the couple to the Cafe’s present owner, David Lipschutz. David was working in restaurants and catering facilities throughout Chicago but was feeling unfulfilled by his work. Vegetarian cuisine was a passion of David’s not shared by a great many restaurateurs.

So in November 1979, just two months after the restaurant opened, David offered his services to help run the Blind Faith Cafe, and Fran and Ivan eagerly welcomed him. David worked breakfasts and lunches while Fran and Ivan worked dinners.

By the spring of 1982, Fran and Ivan had a new and growing family, and their passion for the hard work and long hours of restaurant management had waned. They offered to sell the restaurant to David and he accepted. This was a great opportunity for David to make the changes he’d envisioned to the Cafe’s menu and operations. It was also a dream come true for him to own and operate a restaurant in his hometown of Evanston.

What's the story behind the name of Blind Faith Cafe?

The name, Blind Faith Cafe, came to Fran and Ivan when a friend told them that they were going to have to have “blind faith” to open the restaurant with so little money and experience.

Tell us the story of selecting your location.

Fran and Ivan wanted to open their restaurant in Evanston, and looked around locally, settling on a small restaurant on the southwest corner of Sherman Avenue and Dempster Street called the Evanston Snack Shop. The Evanston Snack Shop was an old-fashioned “greasy spoon,” with bright orange booths and short-order service. Business was lagging and the owners were anxious to sell. In September of 1979, Fran and Ivan bought the restaurant.

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In the fall of 1985, David moved the restaurant into its current location, where he opened a bakery, added a second dining room, and established Blind Faith as a mainstay of the Evanston community. After 35 years on Dempster Street, Blind Faith is an anchor for the business community that has flourished around us.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business?

You have to truly want to be of service, and you should expect to work from dawn to dusk. It's that simple.