Nov. 6, 2012, was a big day for Amy Morton. Not only did her choice, Barack Obama, win the presidency on that Election Day. But it was also when Morton opened her restaurant, Found, on Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston.
“It was a memorable, auspicious opening day,” Morton says.
But come Oct. 1, almost a decade since Day One, the popular upscale restaurant will close.
Morton says her landord, who is trying to get city permission to build a high-rise apartment building on the site, would not renew her lease.
But Morton is working on a new restaurant — with name, concept, and opening schedule to-be-announced, around the corner, a block away, in what used to be the Kinship/Next of Kin Restaurant on Davis Street.
The city’s Liquor Control Review Board recommended approval of a liquor license for the restaurant’s operating company, called La Rotunde.
Morton says the restaurant will likely have a different name — La Rotunde is just a placeholder.
But while that process moves forward, Morton, who also owns The Barn Steakhouse, says for now, she’s concentrating on a farewell to Found, a “bittersweet” event.
Much of the furniture and other fixtures are up for silent auction, with bids left at the restaurant.
But the memories cannot be sold.
Morton says she came up with the name “Found,” because they “found” sustainable, local suppliers, and also “found” objects like chairs and couches to outfit the dining room.
“At the end of the day,” Morton adds, “it became about me finding myself in the process.”
Besides recommending a license for whatever name La Rotunde uses, the Liquor Board also said yes to liquor licenses for:
- Salud Kitchen, a planned new Mexican restaurant on Clark Street.
- El Pueblito Mexican Grill, an already open restaurant on Howard Street
- The new owner of Bluestone, on Central Street, Pat Fowler. Fowler also owns the Firehouse Grill on Chicago Avenue.
An employee at Bluestone tells Evanston Now that Fowler plans to keep the Bluestone name, perhaps tweak the menu and décor a bit — but it will “still be Bluestone.”
Liquor licenses are not cheap, but it now looks like downtown restaurants will no longer have to pay a higher price than do bar/eateries elsewhere in town.
The Liquor Board recommended dropping the $4,300 downtown rate to the $2,800 paid in the rest of the city.
Morton told the Liquor Board it made no sense for her permit fee to “almost double” by just moving “one block away,” from Found to the former Next of Kin.
Lowering the rate downtown will cost the city about $22,000 a year But Mayor Daniel Biss said, “The health of the downtown restaurants outweighs the 22-grand many times over.”
All of the Liquor Board’s recommendations need City Council approval.
In the meantime, another local eatery has gotten big approval from the Chicago Tribune. Soul & Smoke, on Payne Street, has been named one of the Top 5 Barbecue Restaurants in the suburbs.
Co-owner Heather Bublick says she is hoping to turn the take-out dining spot (with outdoor tables) into an indoor restaurant as well.
Which, of course, might then bring Soul & Smoke with a request to … you guessed it … the Liquor Control Review Board.
Also, The Barn, being preserved in their location behind the new site of the Northlight Theater, now under construction, is a huge win for them and us all.
I’m glad so many people seem to like and support the Barn, but I’ve been hugely disappointed in every pricey meal I’ve ordered there. I’m eager to see what Morton comes up with for the “rotunda” space that’s been home to so many short-lived eateries. I’m mainly hoping the price points are lower than the Barn’s.
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