Bakery folds, BBQ joint shuttered as new year begins


A long-time Evanston restaurant and a recently-opened bakery shut down operations as 2011 ended.

Merle's BBQ, at 1727 Benson Ave., posted notices on its door and its website saying it had lost its lease and was closed permanently. The restaurant, which opened in 1992, is owned by the Clean Plate Club restaurant group that also owns the Davis Street Fishmarket in Evanston, which remains open.

Last February city health officials blamed poor food handling practices by Merle's for an outbreak of food poisoning among persons attending parent-teacher conferences at Haven Middle School.

But restaurant owner Larry Huber denied the charges, saying the restaurant had only delivered food to the school, not catered the event, and so wasn't responsible for how it was handled after it arrived at the school.

An attorney for one person who claimed to have been sickened by the food filed suit against the restaurant.

Last January the Clean Plate Club owners sold their Pete Miller's restaurants in Evanston and Wheeling to the current owners of the Tommy Nevin's Pub chain in Evanston, Naperville and Frankfort. Nevin's had started as a Clean Plate Club restaurant but was sold several years ago.

And Tiny Dog Cupcake Bakery, which opened in late 2010, didn't make it into the new year either. Signs on the shop at 616 Davis St. say it also has closed, leaving behind just pictures of the sweets on its website.

Top: Tiny Dog's cupcakes, with the tall swirl of icing on top.

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