Just one day after the surprise announcement that downtown restaurant Thomas & Dutch is closing comes another surprise.
T.J.Callahan, the “Thomas” in Thomas & Dutch, told Evanston Now that another full-service restaurant will move in to the same location in the Orrington Hotel building. Callahan also said that he has no business connection with the new operation.
Callahan, who is closing Thomas & Dutch after just six months of operation, said, “The good news for the city of Evanston is that the space will only be vacant for a few days.”
The new establishment, to be called Evanston Corner Bistro, is the third area restaurant from LM Restaurant Group. The other two are in the South Loop and River North, and, as with the Orrington in Evanston, are located in hotels.
LM spokesperson Lauren Hammond told Evanston Now via email that “the concept is an American bistro focusing on approachable contemporary dishes,” that will be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
It’s likely that price points at this more casual location will be lower than those at Thomas & Dutch.
As for why Callhan decided to close Thomas & Dutch, he said that after putting thousands of dollars into renovating his former Farmhouse restaurant, and turning it into a more upscale dining establishment to compete with similar places in Wilmette and Winnetka, he was “surprised” to find that the market just was not there.
Callahan said he and his co-owner could have kept Thomas & Dutch open for another six months or so, but that would be “simply throwing good money after bad.”
He says lower post-pandemic foot traffic in downtown Evanston was a factor in the closing, with fewer workers coming to the office. Retail vacancies also meant fewer shoppers.
Callahan also said that his experiment with a mandatory 20% service charge instead of tipping, which he later abandoned due to customer opposition, was also a possible factor in attracting fewer diners than expected.
Callahan added that the food, service and overall dining experience at Thomas & Dutch were enjoyed by the customers. There were just not enough of them.
Still, he said, “We were proud of what we did.”
Thomas & Dutch’s last day is Sunday, Oct. 8.
The first day for Evanston Corner Bistro is the 13th.