Good to Go is here to stay, despite the challenges

After 20 years of cooking their beloved Jamaican cuisine, husband and wife team Tony and Lenice Levy say the key to working together is understanding each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We balance each other out,” Tony said. “For us to run the scale of the restaurant we have, he really needed her [Lenice]. I could never have done it without her.

Good to Go, located at 711 Howard St., moved to the Evanston side of Howard Street in 2018. Prior to that, Good to Go was a quick-service restaurant on the Chicago side for 16 years. Moving to Evanston has helped Good to Go grow and invest in the community in which they reside.

“It gave us the space we needed to grow,” Lenice said. “It was a natural decision for us.”

Tony and Lenice Levy, co-owners of Good to Go. Photo provided.

Even so, the past few years have not been easy due to COVID-19, supply price inflation, and the nationwide racial reckoning that has increased in the United States in the wake of George’s murder. Floyd by the police.

Lenice said that while she feels Good to Go receives support from Evanston residents, being a black-owned business has always been difficult.

“We don’t have the same resources that other ethnic groups may have available and our establishment is always subject to a higher level of control due to the fact that we are black-owned,” she said. . “We may have the same credentials and not get some of the resources given to my colleagues in the restaurant business.”

After the murder of George Floyd, Lenice said she noticed a shift to supporting black-owned businesses and while it had an impact, she wants the support to continue.

“We encourage people to continue supporting Black-owned businesses and not just when tragic incidents occur. Hopefully people will regularly want to support us because we really need it.

Good to Go has also coped with the ebb and flow of the pandemic through take-out only, outdoor seating changes and now reopened with no mask required from February 28 due to the city’s order of the Mayor Daniel Biss.

“We took it all back to our humble beginnings,” Lenice said. “We were able to survive thanks to our ability to adapt to the circumstances.”

Good to Go is rooted in their legendary jerk sauce, passed down to Tony from his great-grandmother. At first, Tony was going to use his own sauce but his great-grandmother told him to use her famous recipe at Good to Go.

“Nobody can develop the sauce like we do,” he said. “It’s a whole different level of sauce. Everything we’ve done is intentional because we want to be different, we want to bring an experience to the Jamaican community to make sure what we offer is unlike any other restaurant.

Good to Go’s coffee beans are also imported from Jamaica, and Tony and Lenice said it’s important for them to be as authentic as possible.

Good to Go will soon be releasing a vegetarian and vegan menu addition to provide additional access for those with dietary restrictions.