North Chicago School Students Offer Time And Talents To Save Local Family Business

Elliot McGowan Elliot McGowan

North Chicago School Students Offer Time And Talents To Save Local Family Business

Students and alumni from Evanston Township High School are offering algebra tutoring, dog walking, and more to help save a local favorite.

Gyros Planet and Taqueria lies on the corner of Dodge & Church just across from Evanston Township High School. After wife and husband, Erika Castro and Pablo Sanchez, opened their business in March of 2019, it quickly became a beloved spot for students and local families. When the global pandemic first swept the nation earlier this year Castro and Sanchez decided to step in and help their local community.

In April, shortly after the restaurant’s one-year anniversary, the couple began taking it in turns to prepare free daily meals for people worst affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Loyal customers who were struggling with layoffs, no health insurance, and sick family members soon turned from few to many, and taking it in turns was not enough to keep up with the load.


As the situation exacerbated the couple began providing over 100 free lunches a day, requiring all of their time in the process. The restaurant itself was already struggling from the repercussions of Covid-19 and had no employees to help with cooking and assembly but still, the couple persevered sacrificing their time and money to help their local community.

As of late November, the couple had reportedly given away over 23,840 meals. Now the business itself is on its last legs and local residents and school kids are rallying to make sure Castro and Sanchez’s Gyros Planet and Taqueria is able to see out the storm.


Upon hearing about the situation Amy Landolt, an Evanston resident, emailed the couple urging them to apply for Illinois’ Business Interruption Grant program. The response she received was that though this was a touching notion, it would likely only delay the inevitable. Landolt didn’t stop there, knowing that the couple had spent all their time serving families and not building their business she decided her family would help in any way they could.

She organized an online auction with the objective of raising $5,000 to help Gyros Planet and Taqueria survive. Instead of asking for donations from local businesses and families who may be struggling themselves, she enlisted the help of her 19-year-old twins, two recent graduates of Evanston Township High School. Her son offered his services as a math tutor and her daughter offers to read virtual bedtime stories in either Spanish or English.


Over twenty current or recent Evanston Township High School students have now signed on to the auction offering tutoring in various subjects, dog walking, baking, artistic creations, and much more. Many local businesses have also added their own products and services with the full list of items now approaching 60. Castro was moved to tears by the efforts of the local community overwhelmed by the moving support the community had returned her and her husband. A GoFundMe page created at the end of October 2020 is now over $4,000 of its $30,000 objective with help coming in daily. A true show of Chicago solidarity.

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