by Grace Wong
After eight years of running Space 519 in the 900 North Michigan building, owners Lance Lawson and Jim Wetzel wanted to create a flagship location where people could look at displays, shop curated international goods, and eat delicious food, like Marshall Field’s of old.
The upscale boutique, known for its designer clothing, green apothecary items and other lifestyle pieces with European flair, has moved to a new location, also in the Gold Coast, and Lawson and Wetzel are adding a coffee counter and a food component they’re calling The Lunchroom.
“You have three places in life: The first is home, the second is work and the third is a place you want to be,” Lawson said. “We want this to be the third place. I want to sit down and have a glass of wine. It has to be more of an experience, rather than a transaction, and with the food, we can flesh that out and make this a place where people want to gather as a community.”
Lawson describes himself as an “avid home cook,” but since he and Wetzel spend the majority of the year traveling and buying items for the boutique, they also eat at restaurants around the world.
The theme for The Lunchroom is California-inspired, vegetable-forward cuisine. The Green and White salad will have shaved cauliflower, green apples, hearts of palm, pecorino cheese, and endive, tossed in a lime vinaigrette and topped with pumpkin seeds. Guests also have the option of adding tofu or pulled chicken breast.
“The idea is to bring salads that have more components than a typical restaurant menu salad, have interesting ingredients and be very light,” Lawson said.
The 40-seat restaurant will also have a tuna melt of whipped tuna, havarti cheese and olive tapenade on country bread from Hewn Bakery in Evanston, which will also be providing pastries for the coffee counter.
Heartier options, like enchiladas and eggplant Parmesan, will be served in individual Staub baking dishes, which are available for purchase in the store. They’ve hired Doug Wroble, formerly of the Buckingham Athletic Club, Spago in Chicago, and New York’s Le Cirque, to help build out the menu.
The coffee counter will brew Metric coffee; Lawson said he wants people to feel as if they’re “on vacation in Italy, having a really superlative cup of coffee.” The Lunchroom will host brunch service on the weekends. Once the liquor license is in place, Lawson said they plan to have a beer and wine program with mixed cocktails on the weekend.
“It’s like a fun throwback to your lunchroom in school or college, where people can gather,” Lawson said. “It’s not too fussy, and it’s fun.”
The coffee counter is scheduled to open in about two weeks, and The Lunchroom is scheduled to open at the end of the April.
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