AVONDALE — If the booths at Moonlight Vulture feel familiar when it opens this spring, don't be too surprised.
Ed Debevic's might be gone, but its spirit will live on (if not its sass) inside at least one new Chicago restaurant.
Moonlight Vulture co-owners Alan Leeking and Adam Paul scooped up the signature teal booths, tables, silver chairs and some signs after Ed Debevic's closed and sold off its contents before the building was demolished in December.
"There was tons of it," Paul said Monday night. "They had so much there."
The classic diner decor should mesh well with plans for Moonlight Vulture, a late-night vegetarian sandwich shop the owners hope to open in Avondale at 2889 N. Milwaukee Ave. With a "sort of noir-ish" theme in mind, the pair hope to create an air of an old Chicago diner — albeit with a healthier menu.
Like a scavenging vulture, Paul knows what it's like to crave late-night food without great late-night options.
As a vegan, Paul has an even harder time finding healthy food after a night out. That's a big part of why Moonlight Vulture, his fourth eatery, will cater to vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians.
Moonlight Vulture will be open until 11 p.m. weekdays and midnight weekends. This spring, the diner will probably open in the late afternoon, but as the business grows, lunch service could be added, Leeking said.
But Leeking and Paul have a long stretch of renovations ahead of them before Moonlight Vulture will open. It will take a lot of work to get what was once a bridal shop — and, later on, a mattress store — restaurant-ready. They're hoping to open in May, but understand deadlines can easily change.
This is Leeking's first venture with Paul, who sold two successful coffee shops he opened, including one in Milwaukee and Atomix Cafe in West Town.
The pair plan to serve mostly sandwiches, along with veggie burgers, a salmon burger, wraps and salads. Most dishes will be vegan, although Leeking persuaded Paul to branch out into fish and vegetarian items, too.
Coffee will come from Paul's friends at small-batch roastery Luna Cafe in Wisconsin. While Chicago has many great roasters, Paul said it was a "long-standing" plan of his to serve the coffee.
"I really just have fallen in love with his coffee, and we're really happy to have specialty coffee that nobody else uses," he said.
On Jan. 4, Moonlight Vulture raised $10,000 on Kickstarter, although Paul said the days leading up to hitting the goal were nail-biters.
"We were just thinking, 'Oh, it won't be that hard,' and by the end of it, I didn't know who else to tell," Paul said. The money raised was always going to be "a vital part of our success," despite only being a fraction of their start-up costs, he added.
With the money secure and renovations underway, the owners are looking forward to becoming part of the Avondale community, they told neighbors Monday.
"For six months we were scoping out areas, but ultimately we just found a spot and a landlord with a deal we couldn't pass up," Leeking said.
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