Seeking locally sourced eats with side of compassion? Found
Chef Nicole Pederson (right), of Chicago, and Owner Amy Morton, of Evanston, test menu options with seasonally pickled, locally-grown vegetables for their new restaurant, Found at 1631 Chicago Ave. in Evanston on Oct. 15. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Found restaurant
SPECIALTY: Seasonally driven dishes with a focus on locally-grown greens
LOCATION: Church Street and Chicago Avenue, Evanston
Updated: December 2, 2012 6:04AM
EVANSTON — When Evanston restaurateur Amy Morton decided to launch Found, she envisioned a business plan that would center on her passion for giving back to the local homeless community.
Boasting seasonally driven dishes with a focus on locally grown greens, the new bohemian-style eatery opening this month at Church Street and Chicago Avenue will offer much more than gourmet entrees served in a comfortable, living room-like setting.
Morton has found a way to merge her dedication to helping the homeless with her new business endeavor by hiring homeless employees to help give them a chance to achieve stability and become productive members of the community.
Having worked as a volunteer for local homeless charities for much of her life, the Highland Park native collaborated with Connections for the Homeless and Inspiration Corp. to hire candidates from Inspiration’s culinary arts program and Connections’ employment program.
So far, three employees from the charities have been hired, Morton said, and she plans to take on more when the restaurant officially opens.
“The social mission is the most important part of this business,” Morton said. “I’ve been heavily involved in working with the homeless by providing them with job training skills, and conducting mock interviews at Connections, and I know how hard it can be to find a job out of homelessness.”
Decorated with antiques and unique items and furnishings Morton “found” over the years, the restaurant is laid out like a house and gives off a homelike feel.
Customers are greeted when they walk into the restaurant in the spacious lounge area, which opens up to the main dining room, bar and kitchen counter. Off to the side, a library room offers a fancy private dining space.
“We’re all about being a local spot with a super-groovy vibe where everyone feels comfortable,” Morton said. “We’re approachable, affordable and super-relaxed.”
The menu includes casual items like the French dip sandwich, or guests can opt for more serious food such as crispy oyster tacos, roasted fish freshly cooked in a wood-burning oven and hanger steak.
Instead of rotating specials, Morton said items will be periodically removed from the menu and replaced with seasonally driven dishes made with locally grown ingredients.