After running the hugely successful Ravenswood Event Center for more than a decade, Andy Kalish was ready to jump back into the restaurant business. He and his wife Gina had worked in catering and event planning for years, and in 2016, decided they were ready for a new project. The result is a trio of restaurants and a fierce commitment to the Sheridan Park neighborhood in Uptown—in particular, to Wilson Avenue.
“It takes somebody with a vision—and enough stupidity to not know when to turn back—to say, ‘I’m gonna make this work,’” says Andy Kalish. In 2016, the Detroit native took over a portion of the building that now houses all of his restaurants to open Kal’ish (1313 W. Wilson. Ave., Sheridan Park), a diner that specializes in great burgers, delicious fries, and super-popular “Crispy Clucker” sandwiches—all of which are vegan.
Why a meatless diner? Once the pair decided to open a restaurant, Gina wanted to focus on plant-based foods; and Andy, after years of long days in the service industry, knew what his stomach desired. “At the end of an 18-hour day of doing all of that, what I crave is a cheeseburger and a coke or a beer,” he says. “If we can get someone who eats a cheeseburger to eat one that’s plant based and love it, wouldn’t that be a wonderful step in the right direction?”
A year later, Kalish opened Longacre Pizza Squared (1309 W. Wilson Ave., Sheridan Park), a Detroit-style pizza joint that took over the former Baker & Nosh kitchen and features just a counter and a handful of tables. The square, crispy, pan-style pizza was a huge hit with the neighborhood, but Kalish had always envisioned running a more traditional dining room. So finally, this past March, he opened an official sit-down area next door. At Longacre (1303 W. Wilson Ave., Sheridan Park), diners can also order a variety of delicious salads, appetizers, and snacks. Plus, there’s a super popular brunch.
Not a lot of restaurateurs open three eateries beside each other, but for Kalish, this is a mark of his commitment to a place that he loves. “I’ve always felt that this neighborhood deserved more than outsiders were bringing in,” he says. “You can keep saying, ‘It would be nice if someone did this,’ but at some point, somebody has to step forward.”
Kalish also hopes that his restaurants will encourage others to invest in the neighborhood. “When people see full restaurants, they are inspired to open their own,” he says. And he’s not done yet: the business owner has his eye on other spaces on Wilson, so expect the stretch to get even livelier.