Evanston’s Liquor Control Board is scheduled to review plans Friday morning for a proposed Tilted Kilt bar and restaurant in the Fountain Square Building downtown.

The now Tempe, Ariz., based chain originated in Las Vegas in 2003 and has seven locations in Illinois, the nearest in downtown Chicago at 17 N. Wabash.

The chain features burgers and other pub food in a decor meant to resemble an Irish or Scottish pub, with waitresses the company calls “cast members” who follow a dress code exemplified by the picture here, from the company’s website.

If approved by the liquor board and the City Council, the new establishment should provide interesting company for the Evanston Baptist Church, which meets in the basement of the building at 1601 Sherman Ave.

The first floor of the building, which looks out on the Fountain Square war memorial, has been vacant for over a year since Prudential Preferred Properties acquired Rubloff Residential real estate and moved into Rubloff’s office across the street in Sherman Plaza.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Twilight Zoning

    But at least it’s not something as undesirable to our downtown as a church or senior center….

    1. Nope

      I agree Tom, this town has too many churches as it is. I think we should get rid of some of the current ones myself….. seriously, no joke.

      This Tilted Kilt idea is awful. There is nothing this place would offer that you cant get at another meat head college douchey place like Buffalo Wild Wings or Bar Louie. Aldermen, please object to this proposal.

  2. This business will

    This business will undoubtedly boost the sales tax revenue for the COE…except during NU vacations.

    1. I don’t know…

      Evanston has its fair share of creepy middle-aged men to more than cover the gap left by students. 

  3. Make it happen

    Do it, Evanston. Do it. The Tilted Kilt rocks. It would bring in tons of sales tax revenue. And the "cast members" are smokin’ hot. What’s not to like?

  4. More Irish Food?

    We need more Irish-themed food downtown? Nevin’s and Celtic Knot aren’t enough? 

    Oh, wait, a cursory look at their menu shows that they aren’t really very Scottish or Irish: Sausage Artichoke Fettucini? Lasagna? Burgers? Pizza?

    Hmm – right now we have Edzo’s and 5 Guys for burgers, Trattoria Demi and Donatella’s for italian, Giordano’s for pizza.

    Mediocre food, Guinness and girls in bikinis. Real classy, Evanston. 

  5. whats to object to?

    So they dress waitstaff in short kilts, so what.  Bar Louie had a reputation, maybe still does, for hiring staff that looked good in form fitting t-shirts, no big deal. 

    Why would any alderman object to filling an empty storefront with a sales tax producing, r.e. tax paying, several dozen job creating, street activating, for profit entity.  Especially in a location that has cycled through numerous tenants over the years, everything from pizza to coffee breakfast cafe to r.e. office.  

    Unless an objecting alderman has a specific ready to sign the line "higher quality more acceptable to their viewpoint"  tenant, get ’em open as quickly as possible.

    1. You nailed it

      I totally agree – open them up as soon as possible!

      In this economic climate, I would think we would want to embrace such a new venture?  The sales tax revenue will help, greatly.

      And the revolving window art show is only growing with storefront vacancies due to businesses going under.  I can only take so much art.  A poor method to cover up our economic plight.

      Arguments about food, theme and establishment are just ridiculous and short sighted, especially in a city that has a University right next door.  The restaurant / bar is perfect!

      Is Evanston that anti new business?   That "elite" to turn down such a business? 

      I would hope not… but I have a feeling many new businesses would just as well avoid Evanston for another community because it is appears to be so difficult to set up shop here.

      1. It’s not “elite” to consider

        It’s not "elite" to consider the fact that Evanston is a historic place concerning the liberation of women from previously conceived sexual and social roles, and this place might be a bit too irreverent for Evanston. It’s certainly not a bad place to go to, but Evanston is a community by design, not a community by accident. It’s not difficult to set up shop in Evanston, look at Five Guys, Andy’s Frozen Custard, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc., but even with places as non-threatening as they are, they’re chains, and we haven’t reconciled our vision of Downtown to be urban or suburban yet.

        Before you go over the same old "Evanston is lame for business, waaaah" line that everyone knows, consider that there may be a difference between types of business, and certainly residents of Evanston have a duty (especially with a university nearby) to ensure a balanced, cultured, thoughtful way of life is preserved.

        Ogling young beautiful women over beer and wings may be fun, but economic hedonism still can be wrong for Evanston.

        1. Funny

          "We haven’t reconciled our vision of Downtown to be urban or suburban yet."

          Who is we?  Elites? 

          Are you telling me that in 90+ plus years Evanston still has no idea what it’s vision for Downtown is to be?  When will we have this vision?  And at what cost? 

          Granted, Evanston has a rich history with women’s rights, however, I think it may be a loose  connection to relate that history to the restaurant that wants to move in, especially today.   I am not sure how much historical awareness there is among the public today about Evanston’s Evangelical prowess and women’s rights stance, unless you have lived here for 30 + years.  My view is conjecture, but a view.

          Planned or not as a community, the City has to adjust and has to grow and should conduct a thorough review of this business and hopefully allow them to open.  I think it is a good thing. 

          I just respectfully disagree with you and choose to be more forward thinking than relishing in the past.

          1. Snark

            You’re not building a good argument for putting in a Tilted Kilt by calling me an "elite", considering this is a web forum where we’re operating behind anonymity. I’d love to meet you in person to have a discussion on whether I think a Tilted Kilt is appropriate as well as what I want from my downtown, if you’re game.

            No, clearly, we do not have a vision for our downtown. Recently, we wanted it to be a suburban center of condominiums and retail shops. Now, realizing that’s not how to generate value, we’re looking to bring back our lost office space and highlight our restaurant trade. And over the course of 90+ years, a downtown SHOULD change. The town has changed, the population has changed. why would you want things to be static?

            I’m 23, by the way, and I know Evanston’s history with the WCTU and our religious background, so it doesn’t take a 30+ year resident. In fact, I’d be willing to say a larger portion of ETHS graduating classes have some inkling of the "social Progressive" background and how much we as a town influenced 1920s America (because we always wonder as kids why we don’t allow bowling alleys, so we learn from there).

            I am certainly not relishing the past when I say we should respect our past. The reason why we should have a community conversation about a Tilted Kilt is because it DOES require a certain set of choices to allow a sexually suggestive restaurant that doesn’t have any specifically special qualities (for instance, we’re not going to the Tilted Kilt for the executive chef, or the hometown flavor, or the quality/local/organic/rare/well-prepared/fresh/tasty ingredients) into our downtown district.

            I appreciate that you’re willing to respectfully disagree, but before we reach the relativistic conclusion that your disagreement is an argument based on more than money (which I agree, we definitely need to generate more jobs, but firms are a better way than retail and you know if we give money to Bravo Cucina Italiana out of "economic development" we have a large likelihood for Tilted Kilt) then I’m not willing to admit that your argument holds any water. My email is cdsorens@gmail.com, I’d love to hear your response off the boards.

        2. Agreed

          Well thought-out and well-put, C.D.

          Does the Tilted Kilt demean and exploit women?  Yep.  I just reread some Camille Paglia to try to convince myself otherwise, but this business is all about paying money to stare at semi-clothed women, which is the exact same business model as a strip joint, albeit a softer-core version.  Oh, the guys–and it is mostly guys (would you bring your wife/children/girlfriend here?)–like it for the food, the beer, the televised sports.  Yeah, and I read Playboy just for the articles. 

          Now, I reject the notion that it’s government’s role to legislate morality.  For instance, I believe that drug usage and prostitution should be legalized, regulated, medically-supervised and taxed out the wazoo, for the benefit of all.  No, my objection is primarily of real estate: location, location, location.  Fountain Square is the Village Green, the Town Square, the Ceremonial Epicenter of Evanston.  Any official event or proclamation–heck, even our Christmas tree–is here.  Which makes this location totally unsuitable for a sleazy operation like this.  It’s on the ground floor, with lots of windows.  Parents will have to explain to their children as they walk by why all the ladies inside "forgot to put on their blouses today".  Not incidentally, the only reason the Tilted Kilt got away with locatiing in Chicago’s Loop is that they are way up on a second floor, with no street presence at all.  That’s not the case here in Evanston.

          If there is a demand for this sort of place here, and I’m not sure there is, I’d direct it towards a more remote location, where it’s not in your face as you walk past.  Put it in the back of a struggling shopping center or in a largely industrial area; put it next to the Veolia transfer station for all I care.  Create a remote district of sleaze bars, adult bookstores and massage parlors out of public sight if you like.  But putting it at what’s arguably the most visible center of our city would be a mistake.

    2. “Gentleman’s Club”

      Ok, let’s forget about the restaurant with the lousy food. Why don’t we just open up a gentleman’s club (aka strip joint) and cut to the chase. If it’s about having "hot women" and booze, then fine. But why dress it up as something else – another place to buy burgers and fries.

      If we’re all about the tax revenue, then let’s go for it. Bring on the dancing girls!

  6. Never

    And, a casino and a WalMart and a shooting range, and tear down all the architectural gems and trees!!!!

    1. What?

      Casino? Shooting range? Chopped down trees?  That building=architectural gem?  Hello!  

      It’s basically a very casual restaurant / bar concept, kilts or no kilts, and that model seems to work better and actually has more local community patronage than most any other restaurant model in Evanston. Like it or not, simple fact.

      Walmart? I remember how some said the Target plaza was going to be the end of Evanston as we know it.  Turns out it’s just lots of real estate taxes, lots of sales tax revenue and lots and lots of jobs.  Shooting ranges, Walmarts and casino’s, oh my.

      1. Hmm

        "It’s basically a very casual restaurant / bar concept, kilts or no kilts, and that model seems to work better and actually has more local community patronage than most any other restaurant model in Evanston" — Not really sure what you mean by that. A very casual restaurant…that is explicit in marketing base consumption (be it sex, alcohol, or meat)? I love all three of those things myself, but I’m confused where you see this model elsewhere in Evanston.

    2. Architectural gems?

      The Fountain Square building is not what anyone would call an ‘architectural gem’.

      More importantly, the best way to preserve the so-called architectural gems in Evanston is to keep them occupied, with functioning rent-paying businesses.

       The tower-haters want to preserve 708 Church.  Why?  For a shoe store?   And the so-called Historic Hahn Building…why?   If these buildings were doing good business, nobody would want to tear them down. 

  7. Making half of the population look like twits

    Come on people grow up.  This is supposed to be an intelligent town.  I don’t want a restaurant to require "cast members"  to be dressed for the beach.  I don’t suppose the restaurant will hire just any qualified waitstaff person, but only (young) women with certain body types. 

    Imagine someone is proposing to open a restaurant that only hires young male gymnast types and their required "uniforms" involve close fitting tights, so they must show off their glutes and thighs to all, even in the middle of January.  These young men would then be fired if they took a break in their training, and suddenly didn’t look so good in their tights.

  8. Gives new meaning to “stimulus”

    If the picture is at all representative, this might be overdevelopment 🙂

  9. Evanston is not ‘Evanston’

    With the crime rate, poverty, homeless on the streets, etc., Evanston is not the ‘Evanston’ north shore liberals want to believe—despite all the causes they ‘proclaim’ [actually support?].  They have wanted to zone everything to look like the ivy covered city of their dreams but those dreams have caused many empty buildings, land plots and chased business out.

    Much of Evanston is really an annex of Chicago like Oak Park is.  If a proposed business is not legit, fight it on that basis, not a long dead dream of what Evanston was—or get off your horse and really fix the problems [crime, taxes, lack of shopping] instead of protesting everything.

    1. NIMBY’s and Evanston provide unfriendly business environment

      The City of Evanston staff is unfriendly to the business community and hypocritical.

      Bob Horner, a developer of LEED certified Winthrop highrise in downtown Evanston, recently said it took 2.5 years to get through Evanston’s zoning process. Objectors to the project were people living in nearby highrises who said Winthrop would block their views and cause traffic congestion. Horner said the City of Evanston also complicated the project, requiring more parking that added to the project’s cost.

      ""Evanston officials "want to be a green city, but then they require huge amounts of parking for new construction," Horner told the Evanston Review. "You know, Chicago penalizes if you build more than one parking space per unit; Evanston requires you to have two spaces per unit," with each parking space adding considerably to the building’s cost.""

      So if Evanston requires two parking spaces per three bedroom units and 1.5 spaces for every 2 bedroom units that means more cars, more traffic congestion and more carbon. Gee, that can’t be good for Evanston’s climate action plan to reduce carbon emissions by 2013? Where are all the protests from the green meanies? 

      As a result, only a quarter of the units were sold and Horner and his partner could not pay back a bank loan and had to sell. If the zoning process had been less combatative and lengthy perhaps more units would have been sold (and advertising in EvanstonNow would have helped).

      Also consider all the objections against a proposed highrise at Fountain Square a few years back in the heart of downtown Evanston. NIMBY’s rallied against it, labeling the project a "tower" that would block views and bring in more people and traffic congestion and ruin Evanston’s community. One of the protesters was later rewarded with a seat on the City Council. 

      Think of all the tax revenue that was lost from these projects – enough to pay for branch libraries in every part of town and hire more firefighters.

      Last year, the City Council in the height of a recession and real estate market downturn passed a green ordinance that requires Evanston developers and rehabbers to either acquire LEED certification or select from a list of city-specified options for making their project more environmentally friendly. Though good intentioned, the city set more obstacles and government bureaucracy for developers and rehabbers in this challenging real estate market. City staff also created an unncessary scare when it intially proposed that developers cough up five percent of the value of construction projects only to be returned if they successfully got LEED certification.

      Meanwhile, the City of Evanston is restricting churches and adult daycare businesses from renting in otherwise vacant storefronts, going after the business, Veolia – a garbage transfer station, and buying up residential properties with no plan on what to do with them.  

      Oh, the City Council this year raised our gas tax, the city tax rate and electric and water rates.

      I would say our town, Evanston, is not progressive but rather regressive.


  10. New location

    If the good people who decide the fate of downtown, thinks that this establishment is not good enough for downtown, I’m sure the moribund Dempster Dodge Plaza would welcome such a traffic generating business. They could locate next to the badly needed library.

  11. I’m finding it hilarious

    that with all of the issues facing Evanston– financial woes, educational concerns, a rise in violent crime, and on and on– the one story in Evanston Now that riles people up enough to post double-digit comments is The Tilted Kilt.  Incredible.

    1. Hilarious

      Amen.  On the bright side, maybe it will take the place of the "Save the branch libraries" campaign.

  12. Tilted Kilt

    Sexist and trashy…bad for the community and bad for the youth who hang out downtown, especially the young girls who already are self-conscious about their bodies.

  13. Where would the homeless people go?

    I have been walking past this place every day for quite some time now and the bottom line is it is an eyesore. In the mornings and evenings our beloved Fountain Square is filled with homeless folks who like to use the vacant doorways as urinals when they think nobody is looking.  Is this the image you are trying to preserve?  It is time to put a business in this place.  If Tilted Kilt wants to be the business that moves in and cleans up the property, god bless them.

    Oh, and as a fringe benefit, they will create jobs and generate tax revenue – sounds like a win win.  But, if homeless guys peeing in the corners is your thing, by all means strike this down and pretend you are maintaining a sense of community in downtown Evanston.

  14. City economic development?

    The city of Evanston economic development group is a big joke.  Have they produced any numbers to show how much tax revenue the Tilted Kilt would bring into the city? 

    These are the same people that proposed selling the animal shelter with no buyer.  Better yet these are the same group who no doubt tried to sale the adjoining space to the north branch library and could not find  a buyer.  Are they the same people who could not finish the retail space the city owns in the Maple ave garage and now sits vacant costing us hundreds of thousand of dollars over the years.

    The lack of professional and staff leadership here is disgusting.

    The council members and the Mayor's son in law on the liquor board can waste all the time they want on worrying about how the staff is dressed, when are these people going to wake up and have any real discuss on getting business to come here.

    Businesses don't want to waste huge amounts of time in unnecessary meetings, the rules need to be clear, and we need staff and council members who have the brain power not to create screw ups when they give zoning  breaks and deals, which is a tall order.

    Watching them hand out patronage funds to business for signs and other things is a big joke, when they turn around and want to create a plastic bag  ordinance.  I thought it was interesting staff claimed they talked to the businesses, about the ordinance.  I bet  a hand full of business were contacted if any.

    Council members better wake up,


  15. I was thinking about moving

    I was thinking about moving to Evanston…only to find out you are all a bunch of whiny nitwits…  Tilted Kilt rocks…if you hate it, you are probably too ugly to work there, or too boring to want to know. 

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