Evanston may get its first brewpub by the middle of next year if plans reviewed today by the Liquor Control Board become reality.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl says she plans to recommend approval of a liquor license for the pub, proposed for the vacant former site of the state employment office at 1615 Oak Ave.

Michael F. Smylie of Winnetka told the board he plans to open Smylie Bros. Restaurant and Brewery at the site, which once was occupied by the Oak Street Market natural foods store.

Smylie said he plans a 200-seat restaurant and 15-barrel brew house inside the 8,400 square-foot building which has a barrel truss roof.

“We’ll feature American regional dishes including barbeque and wood-fire pizza,” Smylie said. “It will be an eclectic mix of food.”

Smylie says he’s been a chef for five years, after selling his commodies trading company and has worked at various restaurants on Chicago’s north side.

He said he’s not looking to serve a college-student audience.

“Our core demographic is 25 to 55 year old educated professionals who have the disposable income for dining out,” Smylie said, “and Evanston has a great demographic for that.”

He said he expected 60 percent or more of the establishment’s business to come from food sales.

Smylie says he expectsto sell six to eight types of beers — from pale to dark ales, with some rotating seasonal brews.

He also plans to sell the beer for carryout in half-gallon growler containers.

The liquor license for Smylie Bros. is expected to be on the agenda for the Sept. 24 City Council meeting, along with two other recommendations from the liquor board today — one for hard-liquor package sales at the Whole Foods Market at 1111 Chicago Ave., the other for beer and wine sales at the planned Trader Joe’s market at 1211 Chicago Ave.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Hoping for waitresses with short plaid skirts

    Sounds great! I hope the wait staff wears short plaid skirts!

  2. businesses in Evanston

    What is going on at the former Gio's and former 'Tiny Dog' places ?

    Is anything happening at Austin's Tacos?  Are they coming back, or gone forever?

    Coffee Lab on Noyes:    What's happening there?

    And I see North Face opening at Old Orchard…does that mean that they are planning to shut down Evanston?

    1. I think Austin’s is RIP

      I saw a notice from an attorney on the door regarding back rent and all of the interior signs now appear to be gone. That place was pretty decent but I think it never gained traction because people were expecting Chipotle level quantity and prices and steeply discounted the quality factor Austin's offered. I wish Al's Beef would come back to downtown Evanston, too.

      1. Chipotle Quality

        I haven't been to a Chipotle in 7 or 8 years. I never went back because I thought they lacked quality. They must have improved a lot. Maybe I should give them another try. Are they still owned by McDonald's.

        Must agree with you about Al's Beef. I was shocked when I found them closed. They had the best beef sandwich I have ever had and their other food was very good, as well. The place always seemed to have a line. It's the place I miss to most in Evanston.

        I wish our new business well, especially because they want to business in Evanston without a city handout, like Trader Joe's.


    2. Al’s Beef

      When they closed they said they wanted to have a store closer to NU.  That made no sense since they were about as close as they could get and where could they find a place of the same size ? Stores by the Foster 'El' ?   Seems doubtful that they will return.

  3. Business openning up with out city funds?

    Any business openning up without our tax dollars bank rolling it, is good news. Ofcourse we do not yet know all the details.

  4. Coffee lab

    The sign said [unless they changed it] that it will return in the Fall.

    It is operated by Garrett students so I guess they are off for the Summer.

  5. A brew pub sure beats a government employment office

    Two years ago just after the City Council voted to close the branch libraries,  Assistant State Senate Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg of Evanston and Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl  held a news conference stating they had a plan to combine an Evanston-based office of the state's Department of Employment Security at 1615 Oak and the South branch library.

    Well, the  Illinois Department of Employment Security ofice at 1615 Oak has since closed and there was no joint space shared between IDES and a south branch library.

    Rather, a grassroots organization took charge and opened the Mighty Twig after raising more than $100,000 in contributions and a massive number of volunteers. It is the perfect example of the community NOT the government taking charge and getting things done. It's also a classic example of how government can get in the way.

    Schoenberg once said publicly that he wanted to eliminate PACE since we have CTA. Sounded good but he did nothing just like his and the mayor's idea to combine an employment office and branch library. 

    And to think Schoenberg announced he would not seek another term weeks before a deadline to file for the seat he occupies. And a little while later Daniel Biss announces he will run for the senate seat and there was no time for any other Democratic candidate to join in.

    And then Schoenberg endorsed Biss. The way Schoenberg operated (see above examples) I'd say the endorsement is more like a kiss of death. To top it off, Biss supports the idea of the state shifting the teacher pensions down to the local school districts.

    Biss also said he fears that workers will abandon public employment if their pension plan changes. Someone tell Mr. Biss that government union employees have high retention rates because of job security and cushy benefits. Example – so far not ONE state union employee has been laid off since the start of the Great Recession in 2007. Not one.

    If you're unhappy about rising taxes, fees and fines just wait when D65 and D202 have to deal with the entire cost of teacher pensions. Biss is a strong supporter of government unions and received a $20,000 campaign donation from AFSCME,  the second largest donation to a state legislator.

    I'm voting for Northwestern Kellog alumnus Marc Levine for the Illinois senate seat.

    Anyway, if you've read this far in my rant, I'm so glad there will be a brew pub at 1615 Oak. After all of political chicanery going on in Evanston during the past several years, I could sure use a cold one.


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