Dave's Italian Kitchen: A Brief Autobiography
I was born in the spring of 1972 at 512 Davis Street. My purpose was to provide the area with good & inexpensive food. What little money that was spent on building me went mostly toward kitchen equipment as opposed to costly booths. The people who worked there displayed the values of that time and place although I would like to go on record as saying that Dave never wore bell bottoms.
The early seventies was quite a tumultuous time--a controversial foreign war, energy crises, food and gas prices going crazy, and general political lameness. Ignoring the new wave of foreign cars that were more attractive and economic to buy and operate, American automakers began to lose money and lay off workers. Citizens worried about how our large corporations had damaged the environment. Extreme weather patterns caused people to complain about how the climate had changed. Good thing that none of this could ever happen again.
Though I only had ten tables, many people visited me. I started a tradition that would take place in all of my locations: the kitchen would always be large relative to my dining room. Devoting a large space to the kitchen indicated the importance I put on food preparation rather than just the selling of it. And I call myself Dave's Italian Kitchen not Dave's Dining Room. To this day, I never understand "upscale" restaurants with expensive dining rooms and small kitchens. I still believe that no matter how well designed the walls are, you can't eat them. In the fall of 1975, I moved a few doors down to 506 Davis which had about twenty tables. About three years later, the building fell victim to urban removal and I went to 906 Church where I spent about 22 years. One of the remarkable things about that building was the rooming house upstairs which sheltered several of the employees and hosted many an interesting party. I survived all that. In 1981, I started serving beer & wine which has continued to be a real love. A few years later, I started making my own bread.
However, during the eighties, storm clouds developed in the form of developers who saw my location between the Metra and el as desirable. After about two decades of being coveted, my space was bought by the City of Evanston which was kind enough to pay most of my relocation expenses.
Now I'm at 1635 Chicago, in a basement which I think of as the garden dwelling. The dining room is bigger but so is the kitchen. I still make my own bread and so many other things on the premises. Most recently, I've been making gluten free, meatless brown rice risotto. Despite all the changes, making great homemade food is still my number one love. But enough about me--the real story behind Dave's Italian Kitchen are the wonderful customers and steadfast workers who visit me everyday. Thank you.