Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl announced this afternoon that she’s revoked the license of The Keg of Evanston, a bar at 810 Grove St. that has repeatedly been the scene of underage drinking violations.

“It is always an extremely difficult decision to revoke a license of a local business, but I have to also consider the health and welfare of the community as a whole,” Tisdahl said in a statement.

“Serving minors alcohol is a serious matter that cannot be left unaddressed,” Tisdahl said.

The order revoking The Keg’s license recounts a history of 147 citations issued at the business since 2005, including 111 for alcohol-related violations.

Under the city code, the mayor, who serves as the city’s liquor control commissioner, has the power to suspend or revoke liquor licenses, and the holder of a liquor license can be punished for any violation of liquor regulations by any of the business’s employees.

The order says, “The reputation of The Keg as a bar where underage patrons can be admitted and served was not controverted during the hearing” and that owner Tom Migon failed to present a plan at last Friday’s hearing to effectively address the problems.

It also says that “The Keg, through its use of social media, expressly incited, encouraged, and assisted underage patrons in coming to The Keg and consuming alcohol.”

The license revocation is effective immediately, and the order further prohibits Migon from applying for a liquor license in Evanston in the future.

Related stories

Poll: Close The Keg?

Underage drinking at Keg draws liquor board’s ire

Related document

Mayor’s order revoking The Keg’s license (.pdf)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. That Twitter account

    That Twitter account mentioned being entered into the PUBLIC RECORD was a parody account. It would be fine if it stopped there, maybe, but in the Findings section of the document posted to the COE website, they press it, saying it is "incontrovertible proof that The Keg, through its use of social media, expressly incited, encouraged, and assisted…"

    Incontrovertible because someone created a Twitter account called The Keg of Evanston and posted a bunch of absolutely ridiculous, over-the-top stuff about underage drinking on it? Give me a break.

    I hope the attorney and liquor board somehow get what is coming to them simply for being such complete idiots. I don't even care if The Keg ever opens again.

  2. That’s our anti-business mayor!

    Nice work, Mayor Nanny!  What's one more empty storefront in Evanston?  Us lucky Evanstonians will happily make up for the loss in tax revenues via increased property taxes.  Or perhaps a decrease in city services?  Whatever works best for you.  Cash, check, or charge, Mayor?

    And congratulations on single-handedly solved the underage drinking problem in Evanston.  We are so lucky to have your vision leading the way.  Surely the NU student body will attend evening church services instead, now that you've shown them the evils of the drink.

    Lesson learned, Mayor Willard.  Why try to constructively work together with a local tax paying business owner to solve a community problem, when you can simply pull the plug and move on to the next business or landlord to harass?  

  3. Extremely Dissappointed Again in the Leadership of this City

    Listen . . . I don't like the Keg and haven't been inside the place in years

    But enough is enough — we NEED a strong business economy in this town.  We are facing serious economic side and need to support business.  It seems like this mayor doesn't want business to succeed in downtown Evanston.  Barring the Tilted Kilt (once again not my choice of an establishment but one that would generate further interest in downtown) and now this action. 

    Yes, underage drinking is an issue, but to destroy a business based on this is sad.

    BOOOOO the Mayor.


    1. We Can’t Afford No Stinkin’ Values!

      I, for one, applaud your Pro-Underage Drinking stance. You have shone a light on an emerging market for beverage taxes that we, as a City, have been far too lax for far too long to exploit! We should be hailing Tom Migon as a trailblazer! He saw a clear need to provide alcohol to those who desired it, but darn those pesky lawmakers in the US Capitol, who forced the hands of states back in the 80s, requiring states legislate that alcohol consumers to be 21 years old or face losing their federal highway dollars.

      All those under-21s have been yearning to slake their thirst with cheap malts and hops and we should have been the local, nay, the NATIONAL leaders in profiting from this demand!  Boy, howdy, we would have streets paved with gold, wouldn't they?

      I only wished we lived in a city where citizens felt safe putting their names behind such a stance. You could have opened a saloon right across the street from the high school – a nice place for students to stop of for a cold one before heading for home.

      1. At 18 years of age

        These kids can sign on to 6 figures of debt that generally cannot be discharged in bankruptcy to attend Northwestern, yet they cannot be trusted to imbibe in a few glasses of Bud Light. Student loans have ruined a helluva lot more lives of 18-20 year olds than drinking some beers ever could. 

        1. And your point is?

          Yes, and …?

          You don't actually get to pick and choose – no matter how much people try to equivocate this with the pot citations. The drinking age is the law.

          If you want change, change the law.

  4. Finding 20

    Finding 20 on p.4 of Mayor Tisdahl's report says that "Exhibit 3" (TheKegofEvanston Twitter account) offers "incontrovertable" proof that the owners were encouraging and enabling underage drinking.

    That Twitter account, since deleted, had long indicated that it was being run by a Northwestern student, was satirical in its content, and was in no way affiliated with the establishment.  In addition, at the hearing last week, the Keg's owner testified that he had no knowledge of the account and had never used Twitter in his life.

    So in the face of the evidence against her, Mayor Tisdahl cited in her "incontrovertable" findings a satirical Twitter account as among her evidence to close down a local Evanston business?  Do we need to tell the mayor that The Onion publishes fake news?  That the Daily Show is a fake news show?

    Why does our mayor lie and decieve?

    1. Mayor as Liquor Control Commissioner

      What's the problem with that?  She is a city-wide elected official.

  5. The Keg

    Why be anonymous about it, folks?  Say what you don't like about the Mayor's policy and back it up with your own courage.

    This has been years in the making.  No one is more willing to listen than a good businessman…and at the same time, he also has to balance the effect of his business with the welfare of the community from an economic point of view.  I HATE seeing this place close…I've had a beer or two there over the years.  It was fun and relaxing.  But in recent times, one sees the EPD in front of the place more often than not.  And some customers who came out seemed to do their level best to make the place look bad through their own behavior.  IT DIDN'T HELP THE CAUSE.

    147 violations over seven years?  In a college town?  That is virtual suicide in most cities.  And many of us remember a shooting there that occurred in 2005 that didn't help, either.  Most folks conveniently forget that Evanston didn't even SERVE liquor until the late 60s.  Oh, and another thing….Have you seen this from the the Daily Northwestern?

    "A Call to Action:

    The Daily Northwestern reported today that the legendary Keg of Evanston is up to be axed by the City of Evanston for "a reputation around the North Shore for letting in underage drinkers." We can't sit idly by while this travesty occurs. What would happen to NU's social scene without TKOE? Where would students go to find love, or more aptly put, blacked-out, dance-floor-make-out sessions? We don't want to find out. Sign the petition and make sure TKOE will be here for our children, and our children's children."

    THIS?  THIS is your priority, your reason to petition and protest?  NOT your obscenely high tuition that your families have to pay.  NOT the constant harassing of the LGBT community on campus.  NOT even the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would have drafted most of these young men right out of their dorms in another era.  But THIS???  The Occupy folks would glare in embarrassment.

    The Keg needed to close and start over.  Would I have done the same thing?  Probably.  But I would also encourage the owners to affiliate with other bar/restaurants around the area who don't HAVE those same problems and see how it's done.  Then, in time, allow those owners to try again, when they decide to reapply for their liquor license.

    Either way, the entire situation is not only unfortunate in the history of the relationship between Evanston and the University…and don't you think it doesn't affect it….  It is appalling that it went this far.  The Keg was a spot enjoyed for its celebration of youth and energy.  It lost its way in a terrible manner.  But I wonder if its patrons (which includes me) can learn anything from it.  Me, well, I'll go back to Pete's, as I often do.  It's more expensive, but it's worth the price.

    Was ANY of THIS worth it?

    1. Good riddance to him

      The Keg got warning after warning after warning. You can only give someone so many chances.  And if you let them have a liquor license in Evanston what is going to stop him from joining another bar or opening another place and allowing this all over again. Good riddance to him.

    2. Not the Daily

      That "call to action" was a petition circulated by gossip website NU Intel and not The Daily Northwestern.

  6. I’m a current college

    I'm a current college freshman who went to New Trier and also who doesn't happen to own a fake ID, therefore, every Thursday over the Summer and practically every weekend I had nothing to do because EVERYONE went to The Keg.

    Certainly some of this comes out of resentment, and I agree that Evanston needs to do something about the many vacant store fronts; however, The Keg is a place where law and order goes out the window. I've heard numerous counts of high school students getting in fights at the bar with Northwestern students, or better yet, kids from rival high schools who also attend The Keg regularly.

    Also, think of the crowd that attends The Keg–would you want your daughter, who happens to be a sophomore in HIGH SCHOOL, getting hit on by guys who are many years older than her? Would you want your son to get seriously injured in a bar fight? But most importantly, where is the integrity within this community?

    How many people are willing to turn a blind eye just for economic benefit? Are people really more concerned with Capitalism and economic prosperity than the serious ethics that The Keg violates and the welfare of kids who I personally know have been as young as 15?

    I say it is about time that justice is served. Many may complain, as some have already done so, that oh the Mayor is destroying business in Evanston–I am no fan of Tisdahl and would agree with that statement on a whole, but in this case she made the correct, moral, and responsible decision to revoke The Keg's liquor license which it constantly chose to abuse.

    Does anyone not see the parallel between this situation and what  the big banks did to cause the recession? Open your eyes people.

  7. Finally!

    The liquor board made the right vote. Should have been done ten years ago under our last mayor.

  8. Should have happened a long time ago

    I totally agree with this decision to close down the keg.  When I was younger but not under age  I would go there when all the other bars were closed and see cops and underagers in there.  Everyone knew that the cops were aware of the underaged drinking but did nothing about it.  I think everyone who posted that this is going to effect them financially is being selfish think about the under age children going in there.  I think its better to have businesses that follow the law than an under-age drinking hole. Evanston is better than that. Tisdahl made the right decision. 

  9. I miss when The Keg was

    I miss when The Keg was actually a nice seafood restaurant, but then I'm probably dating myself.

    On the other hand, regardless of what you think of the legality of underage drinking, and regardless of whether The Keg's owner knows what Twitter is, any business owner who manages to rack up 111 alcohol violations is simply too stupid to continue being a business owner.  It's not like he didn't know what the stakes were.

  10. The Keg

    It's too late now, but what if, instead of closing The Keg, they were fined – and every time they were caught, the fine doubled. At some point there would be no incentive to serve underage patrons and the city would make a little money.

  11. The bigger point

    Yea, yea, yea… so the Keg lost their liquor license, big deal.  They had it coming.

    The bigger point is what "business" will occupy that building and what will the City do to attract a suitor?

    And by "business", I mean a for-profit business, not another non-profit Theatre Troupe or something subsidized by the City which has no money. 

  12. The mayor’s action

    Sure, the Keg probably deserved to have its liquour license revoked. Its reputation was notorious and at the very least the management did nothing to dispel the notoriety. But…

    The mayor had plenty of ammunition to revoke the license without resorting to falsehoods or displaying a total lack of understanding of Friday's proceedings. First, the Daily Northwestern and others have reported that the twitter account was not affiliated with the Keg, which also seems pretty clear if you actually look at the tweets. Mayor Tisdahl either wilfully misrepresented this evidence, or has no idea how Twitter works.

    Second, the CHIEF OF POLICE!! made it clear that the credit/debit cards were being used as a SECONDARY form of identification, i.e. as a means of verifying the primary. Anyone who understands how kids get into bars would realize that they often use a real ID of someone who is not them; matching a credit card to that ID makes that tactic much harder to use. 

    That's not to say the Keg responsibly checked IDs; I've seen the same driver's license being passed back the line multiple times in a matter of minutes. But by lying or misrepresenting the evidence, the mayor lost whatever moral authority this decision had.

    Finally, there is now no real college bar in Evanston, which sucks for Northwestern kids. They don't need one as grimy as the Keg, but Evanston would really boost its appeal as a college town if we had a legitimate college bar.

    1. It Really Holds Them Back

      Honestly? You are concerned because there is no "real college bar" in Evanston? Have you looked at their application numbers lately? The University crows and crows about how many more of prospective students are applying to NU every year – and they still reject an ever-increasing, overwhelming number of them. 

      The lack of a "real college bar" is a non-starter of a fatuous sidebar. The kids will still come to Northwestern, the Keg was never the appeal. The degree is the appeal.

      They won't be bored for long. They'll figure something out. When the 1800 Club, Hundo whatever it was called, closed, they didn't stop. They won't stop now.

      1. What? Where did you make the

        What? Where did you make the leap from my comment to application numbers?

        It's a college town. It would be nice to have a college bar.

        New Haven sucks. Yale still gets applications. Which is equally irrelevant to my comment.


        1. From your own comment

          "but Evanston would really boost its appeal as a college town if we had a legitimate college bar."

          That is exactly where I took "the leap," though it's hardly even a bend of the knee. Evanston's appeal as a "college town" is the stature of Northwestern as a premier university in the United States. The "college town" concept has different meanings to different people, obviously. Perhaps I've always been a grown-up at heart, but I've always taken "college town" to stand for more than dried blood and stale vomit on the sidewalk on a Friday morning: a highly literate, more educated population; a wider selection of arts programming and presentations; an energy for learning, today and tomorrow; optionally, even the potential access to top-drawer collegiate athletics.

          A legitimate college bar – though legitimate seems an odd choice of words for the scofflaw Keg, so you must be speaking hypothetically – may just not be in the cards for Evanston until we/they/citizens/decision-makers decide we can handle having a "real" bar, not just restaurants with liquor licenses. The Keg certainly wasn't proof that "we" could; they weren't up to the task.

  13. Who is accountable?

    111 citations, multiple stabbings and a killing since 2005.  The owner had many opportunities to clean this up and he chose not to.  Don't blame public officials for this guy's lack of responsibility.  This bar made Evanston look more like Highwood.

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