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Evelyn's Food Love brings soul to Washington Park

The following is an excerpt from an article by Rachel Hinton in The Chicago Sun-Times:

When Evelyn Shelton chose the location for her restaurant, friends and even some family thought she was crazy.

“Everyone I talked to said, ‘55th and State? Really?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, really,’” Shelton said, laughing. “55th and State has nowhere to go but up. This was one of the final locations for the Obama library and for the Olympic bid. So if it’s good enough for that, it’s good enough for me.”

Since it opened in May, Shelton’s namesake restaurant Evelyn’s Food Love has served up more than lunch specials and soul food staples.

By employing people from the community and supplying a homey atmosphere, Shelton is also serving up a bit of change and revitalization to the Washington Park neighborhood by giving people a place to go. Her goals and emphasis on reshaping the community are something Small Business Saturday, celebrated Nov. 25, also focuses on.

In Illinois, small businesses comprise 46 percent of the state’s private workforce and more than 98 percent of all businesses, according to the 2017 Illinois Small Business Profile. They’re vital to the state’s economic infrastructure, but for Shelton, locally owned businesses are important for reshaping and boosting neighborhood economies.

“I strongly believe that this is how we revitalize neighborhoods in our communities that are in need of economic development,” Shelton said. “Starting new businesses in areas that need it, and then hiring locally is how we turn some of the negative in our city into something positive. I think people genuinely want to do well, and they will if you give them the chance.”  Continued [+]...