Former Evanston restaurant and auto dealership owner Scot McKay died of cancer last week at his home in Carmel, Calif.

McKay, 59, was one of three partners behind the Clean Plate Club restaurant group, which at one time operated three restaurants in Evanston — Pete Miller’s, Merle’s BBQ and the Davis St. Fish Market.

In recent years the company sold Pete Millers and shuttered Merle’s.

Jonathan Perman, the former executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, says McKay was “an incredible entrepreneur,” getting his start with the McKay Datsun dealership on Chicago Avenue where the AMLI Residential apartment development now located.

He also was involved in several other auto sales ventures, but was best known here for the restaruants which were the first, Perman says, to bring thematic dining to Evanston.

After moving to Carmel in 2003, McKay bought the Carmel Valley Athletic Club, and two years ago acquired a local radio station, KRML, best known as the setting for the 1971 Clint Eastwood film, “Play Misty for Me.”

McKay is survived by his wife, Heidi, and seven children. Funeral services are planned for Friday in Carmel.

Perman says, “Scot was an unforgettable personality with an extraordinary zest for life.  He should be remembered for his exceptional contributions to Evanston.” 

Top: McKay in a 2012 photo from The (Monterey County) Herald, holding an antique microphone from KRML.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. McKay Datsun

    Before McKay Datsun moved to where the Amli building is, he was located in the old firehouse on the west side of the street. The building is now the Firehouse Restaurant. if memory serves, the dealership had the old firepole in the showroom, and used the bay doors facing Chicago Avenue to move cars in and out. The restaurant is only the latest of a series; I can recall at least two others.

  2. Don’t forget…

    As I recall, the Clean Plate Club was also responsible for Tommy Nevin's (also since sold off).

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