Left: Let's Eat to Live's butter garlic lamb chops, garlic brussels sprouts and vegetable basmati rice. Right: Escovitch red snapper, sweet coconut rice and green beans. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago

WOODLAWN — Let’s Eat to Live, which opens this weekend in West Woodlawn, will bring fine, sit-down dining to a community “that doesn’t have any,” its owner said.

The restaurant, 621 E. 67th St., will celebrate its grand opening Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. before opening to the public 6-9 p.m.

Let’s Eat to Live’s menu features Escovitch red snapper ($26), vegetable linguine ($18), butter garlic lamb chops ($27), burgers ($13-$17) and more.

Starters such as salmon fataya and Haitian patties ($7) and sides such as sweet coconut rice ($4), soups and salads are also available.

The eatery uses non-genetically modified vegetables — including crops grown at a garden on the same block as the restaurant — halal meats and wild-caught fish, owner Carmella Coq’mard-Muhammad said Thursday. Head chef Yusuf Gordon’s dishes use no saturated fat, no lard, pork or pork byproducts, she said.

“We absolutely blended what the urban community would like to eat, but a healthier version,” said Coq’mard-Muhammad, who also runs The Foodie’s Spot, 7350 S. Stony Island Ave. in South Shore.

Let’s Eat to Live’s regular hours are 12-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. There also is a Sunday brunch menu.

Let’s Eat to Live will host food education classes Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, Coq’mard-Muhammad said.

The restaurant will also prepare 150 free meals for neighbors in need on Sunday afternoons, in an effort similar to one led by The Foodie’s Spot for the past several years.

The free food will start being served in the next few weeks, after Let’s Eat to Live gets settled in, Coq’mard-Muhammad said.

The restaurant is one of several finished and future projects near 67th Street and St. Lawrence Avenue, alongside the Salaam Community Wellness Center, the garden and a planned produce store.

Master gardener Gregory Bratton helped start the garden, which grows a variety of crops, including bell peppers, mustard greens, eggplant, lettuce and beets. It’s open for neighbors to “come right on in and grab a vegetable if you need one — just be mindful that other people need some, too,” Coq’mard-Muhammad said.

Coq’mard-Muhammad plans to buy a nearby vacant lot at 67th Street and Champlain Avenue and expand the garden next year, she said.

Restaurateur Carmella Coq’mard-Muhammad poses for a portrait inside her newest eatery, Let’s Eat to Live. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Photos of Dizzy Gillespie (pictured), Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis and other jazz icons line the walls at Let’s Eat to Live. Credit: Maxwell Evans/Block Club Chicago
Beets grow at the garden on the corner of 67th Street and St. Lawrence Avenue in Woodlawn on Aug. 15, 2022. Crops from the garden are used in Let’s Eat to Live dishes. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

Even with the Obama Presidential Center’s construction in Jackson Park drawing public and private investment to Woodlawn, the southwest portion of the neighborhood is experiencing “stalls in reinvestment,” researchers said earlier this year.

Let’s Eat to Live and its neighbors are working to buck that trend by bringing goods and services to their West Woodlawn blocks, Coq’mard-Muhammad said.

“This is bringing food in the community as it is growing and changing,” she said.

Coq’mard-Muhammad will open her third restaurant, Rock the Islands, in 2024 at a Washington Park development near 51st Street and Prairie Avenue, she said. The restaurant and entertainment space will serve Haitian, Cuban and Dominican cuisine and will have a dance floor, she said.

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