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The Blind Faith Story… A Restaurant, Bakery & Labor of Love

The Cafe’s Story starts in 1979. It is about three people, Ivan Newell, Fran Welch, and David Lipschutz, who didn’t know each other then but who, within two short years, would create what has become an Evanston landmark — the Blind Faith Cafe. Over the past 35-plus years, through the waning “hippie” days of the ’70′s, the beef-crazy ’80’s, the “PC” ’90’s, and the booms and busts of the last decade Blind Faith has not only stayed open, but has grown and thrived as a quality restaurant and resource in the community.

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, as well as 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. They 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 and the Blind Faith Cafe was born. The name, Blind Faith Cafe, came to the couple 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.

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 home town of Evanston.

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.

More than thirty-five years after its humble beginnings, Blind Faith remains committed to offering fresh, innovative, vegetarian cuisine served in a warm, relaxed atmosphere. If you haven’t been to our restaurant, we hope you’ll give us a try…and if you have we look forward to seeing you again soon.