A proposal to open a Tilted Kilt bar and restaurant in the Fountain Square Building downtown is back on the agenda of the Evanston Liquor Control Board for a meeting next Tuesday night.

The proposal drew opposition based on concerns about traffic congestion and sexism when it was first presented to the board in December.

The owner of the building at 1601 Sherman Ave., Ted Mavrakis, said he would be the franchisee for the bar, and that he’s operated a Giordano’s restaurant with a full liquor license in downtown Evanston for 28 years “with not one single violation.”

The Tilted Kilt 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.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said at the December meeting that her only knowledge of the business came from looking at its website.

“But from what I see on the website, I would probably not take my family there,” Grover said.

She said it appears the business exploits young women, and only hires women who fit a certain physical type for its waitstaff.

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

The liquor board meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in room 2200 of the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting…

    But how about a companion establishment staffed by scantily clad men, who could then feel equally exploited and objectified by interested patrons?

    1. Tilted Kilt DOES have scantily clad men too

      And if seeing a guy in a kilt appeals to you, you will love this place!

    2. There are no victims here

      Give. Me. A. Break. There are no victims here. Most people are not the helpless, dependent little children you appear to project them to be. Any female who applies for a job at a place like The Tilted Kilt knows darn well what they are doing. We're not talking about children here. So, get over yourself.

  2. No victims

    Give. Me. A. Break. There are no victims here. Most people are not the helpless, dependent little children you appear to project them to be. Any female who applies for a job at a place like The Tilted Kilt knows darn well what they are doing. We're not talking about children here. So, get over yourself.

    1. Tough Guy Knocks Down Straw Man

      You have set up a classic Straw Man argument:  a weak argument NOT made by the other party, but very easy for you to knock down.  

      No surprising that you begin and end your comments with cheap shot insults. 

      Obviously, you lack either the courage, the attention span or the intellectual clarity for an honest conversation.  So you set up and knock down your Straw Man and thump your chest.

  3. Is this who we are?

    Is this how we want to represent ourselves as a community?  You know, that North Shore suburb with the just-this-side-of-strip-club restaurant in the heart of downtown?  That's not the Evanston I live in……

    1. Give me a break

      The Evanston you live in is becoming a boarded up town of vacant buildings that attract crime and turn away business and customers.  If you don't like the place DON'T GO IN!

    2. Really?

      In the mean time, keep representing yourself with the current Fountain Square clientele.  Have you been down there when the sun is not up?  If it is not a ghost town it is filled with homeless people begging for spare change and using vacant doorways as urinals.  Great representation…

      1. Downtown Business

        Both Jewel on Chicago Ave. and CVS on Sherman probably do good business but I know I avoid them most of the time because of the beggers there.  I suspect many people avoid Sherman from Church to Clark on Sherman [and Starbucks] because of the panhandlers. 

        In the late 70s I remember downtown being a vital place to go at least on Saturday nights.  The outside eating at the Orrington, an ice cream store there, and other things that drew people.  Now at 6 PM it is dead.  Perhaps the theater area is 'alive' after 6 PM but how many businesses are helped esp. in the main downtown area ?

        The city would be much better served if the Council would try to get more business in [without and without needing 'special tax breaks' or 'gifts'] by providing a better atmosphere for business—lower taxes for everyone, stop all the petty rules that serve not purpose, zoning that works fast/reasonable without politics and waiting for every last voice to be heard.

  4. Do not understand the backlash…

    Its just ridiculous that there is backlash for a possible business coming downtown. It seems people would much rather look at another empty storefront and that boarded up window. I'm sorry people, but those pictures and paintings look nice in these empty windows but… THEY DO NOT PAY RENT. 

    You act like if this place opens up we are going to have anarchy in the streets. Like this place would be a source of problems. I saw one comment on twitter where someone actually said they were "horrified at the mere thought of the tilted kilt coming to our town." And I think they were actually serious… The end is near… Tilted Kilt in Evanston will lead to the fall of our way of life. OR nothing will happen except bringing a possible thriving business to a downtown that honestly needs a kick in the pants…as do some of you who are "horrified at the thought."

    GET OVER IT and be the progressive liberals you so desperately want to be…

  5. Evanston needs retail business….look around people!!!

    Evanston, while not at all a ghost town, has a significant number of vacancies throughout the town. Nearly every block downtown has at least one empty space. On Orrington, there are several vacancies. I struggle to understand why people are so against the addition of another restaurant. If Tilted Kilt does not come here, what will? For all of these people complaining about the restaurant, what other options are they actively working on? Does anyone working for Evanston's government even focus on Business Development?

    I would love for there to be a newer, younger option here in town. I get tired of going to Chicago for a fun or different place to go to. And while I have the mic, can we please get a larger Starbucks or a new decently, sized coffee shop to replace Border's (like a standalone Seattle's Best)? It only takes 10 people to fill up the one downtown!

  6. Really?

    Hooters doesn't belong in Evanston. Neither does Tilted Kilt. Let them open in Chicago.  This is a family oriented city. 

    1. Are you kidding me?

      You must be kidding. This has to be a joke. This "family oriented city" where kids gun down other kids in a McDonalds… Seriously people, wake up.

      This restaurant will not be the fall of our city. It will probably bring more people downtown and capture more of that hard-to-get college kid money that this town should be feasting on. 

    2. Family orientation

      One establishment is going to sully the family orientation of Evanston??? I don't think so!! Get real!!

      1. All it takes is one!

        All it takes is for the city to let ONE restaurant like this in, and there will be no end to it. Once they open their doors, there's no going back. And I'd really hate to see that beautiful area of downtown Evanston smutted up by a bar with obnoxious signs in the windows and loud music.

        People move from Chicago (and other places) to Evanston because it has a family-values reputation. Although you can't always keep out all the bad stuff (prostitution ring, McD's shooting, etc. etc.), it is our duty as citizens of Evanston to TRY to foster an atmosphere that promotes the values we want out children to be surrounded with.

        This is clearly NOT a family friendly restaurant chain. Yes to freedom of expression, No to changing the atmosphere of our beloved city (and No to smut)!

    3. Sounds right to me…

      Drive by the High School some warm afternoon, and you'll see more flesh than those Tilted Kilt girls will ever show. That's some good family values right there. Then there's the latest gang fights that resulted in a shooting at a McDonalds. More Good Evanston Family Values. Prostitution ring in Downtown spa?  More of Evanston's fine Family Values.

      Yup- we've got all sorts of Family Values right here in Evanston.


    4. Family-Oriented?

      I couldn't agree…. less.  I thought Evanston was a college town.  As for family values… our actions speak louder than our words and there is a lot of non-family oriented action taking place around this town.  One need only read the comments on this board to see just a few – shootings, prostitution, robbery.  And then we have the entire political scene – a gaggle of robber barons unequaled in their audacity.  Egads!  Family…

  7. Hooters, anyone?

    I fail to see how this is any different from Hooters or any other bat that hires attractive servers in order to promote business (and for the women, to generate big tips). Unless there's actual nudity, this is a non-issue.

  8. Next stop – scores!

    This could be so cool – Evanston could be a destination for men seeking adult entertainment – maybe we could open a "Scores Gentleman's Club" right next door to Tilted Kilt –  make a corridor / destiination out of Fountain Square.

    Francis Willard was all about women's rights – she'd be so proud to see how far women have come in this town of hers.  Why not use tits and ass to sell beer?   Also – what a great way to open our thinking on discrimination – why battle against it … when you can just legalize it through "casting calls"?

    You can't make this stuff up.

  9. Kilt bar

    This runs contrary to everything Evanston is about. Perhaps they could donor without the costumes a la Celtic Knot?? Work a solution.

  10. Is Jane Grover now the

    is Jane Grover now the morality police?  She would rather turn business away and raise the taxes of the residents.

    1. Jane Grover – Morality Cop

      This is the same Jane Grover who voted to allow residents to house chickens in their backyards to allow "sustainable food sources" even though those smelly, noisy "cooped up" chickens could destroy the outdoor quite backyard living I enjoy now.

      I wonder if anyone would be outraged by a restaurant or bar run by and promoting a lesbian lifestyle, a green lifestyle or a vegetarian lifestyle that required its co-workers to wear short clothing and tank tops, do you suppose the same morale indignation would be seen then?

      Evanston is such a liberal, open minded and progressive city, unless you don't share the same social viewpoints.

      1. To our Liquor Commission

        To our Liquor Commission: how about enforcing the law rather than seeking guidance from 11 year olds?

        Personally I'm more outraged by existing Evanston bars (I'll leave out names) that have been busted dozens of times for allowing under aged drinkers to get drunk and drive home (many from suburbs north of Evanston). That our City officials allow that to continue while showing morale outrage over proposed short skirts and bare midriffs is just unfathomable.

  11. Get over yourselves

    I'm a committed feminist.  But I don't see how this injures Evanston at all.  If you don't want to go, and I certainly won't, don't go to the Tilted Kilt.  But it's a legal business and not letting it open would be really absurd. 

    1. Committed to what?

      "Just Don't Go" is not practical advice.  The ground floor of the Fountain Square Building is all windows, on both sides.  Just a few yards from our town square.  There's no way to NOT see this unless we totally avoid the area or require Tilted Kilt to pull the shades and order the "Girls" to never wear their "slutty schoolgirl" costumes on the street.  

      "It's a legal business" is beside the point.  Are you saying that the people of this city have no right to turn away ANY legal business?  That may be your belief, but it is not the law.  

      The Illinois Liquor Control Act says flat out that a liquor license is a privilege, and not a right.  It also gives the local Liquor Commissioner broad discretion to deny a license whenever that would serve the best interests of the community. 

      Take another look at the Tilted Kilt website.  Are you really comfortable putting young women into costumes which make them look like sexually available children?  The Kilt Girl costume is deliberately designed to match the standard"slutty schoolgirl" Halloween costume.  Can you see how that endangers girl children, by giving adult men permission to see them as sexual stimuli?

      Check out the Kilt Girl tee shirts advertised on the website, especially the ones that say "Soft Tail" and "Goes Down Easy."  While you're there, take a look at the photo of the pool table, with its spread-legged "Girl".  

      I hope you'll reconsider.

  12. Money vs. Morals

    A few months ago I remember reading that the city wanted to stop "storefront" churches from popping up because they didn't pay taxes.  That wasn't a morality problem, it was a money problem.  Now a restaurant wants to open up and pay taxes and the city and it's people will say no, not because of money, but because of morals.  I don't understand the rationale of not wanting a legal establishment that will generate money for the city.  This is a restaurant, not a strip club.  If you like Dominick's over Jewel, go to Dominick's.  If you like Wendy's over McDonald's, go to Wendy's.  You don't ever have to step foot in this restaurant.  It's that easy, don't go.  Go to a restaurant that you prefer.  This is a beautiful city and I love living here and this restaurant won't change that.  We also have to remember that this is a Big 10 college town and while the university may not pay taxes, the students spend a lot of money in this town.  I would venture to bet that a whole lot of students will be in there, along with people from Wilmette, Winnetka, Rogers Park etc…

    Plus, if the elected politicians in this town want to pass a law where they get pensions, this city is going to need a cash influx from somewhere……

    1. Excellent Response

      I love the way in which you connected the dots … no churches, but no "morally questionable" businesses either.  Further, I couldn't agree with you more – we need all the cash we can get for those new part-time pensions that we all know will be passed for the Township Assessor and our Alderpersons. 

      Regarding a tilted kilt, I've said it before and I'll say it again, there are young women abounding who like to dress scantily.  This is not something that is newly invented.  Whether someone was being daringly risque for showing her ankle at the turn of the century, or donning a pair of short-shorts in the 60's, it is there.  Cleavage, midriff and upper thigh have shown up in our past, they exist in our present and will continue on into the future.  Every time we dare to leave our homes, we are subjecting ourselves to the possibility of seeing it.  If we are so sensitive to it, how is it possible we have the traffic congestion on our streets and highways? 

      For those of you mid-40's and younger, tell me you've never flashed some skin – or have you already forgotten what it is to be young and feel pretty?

      Yes – Tilted Kilt – bring it on.  I always liked plaid!

  13. It’s called opinions, folks

    And we're all allowed to have them. Personally, I'd fight to the death for an open society that allows free expression, but that doesn't mean I want everyone's version of free expression in my face when I go downtown.  I see nothing wrong with that.

    If the restaurant theme called for hiring mostly African-American "cast members" and having them dress as plantation workers, no one would argue that would be too offensive for Evanston's image.  The Tilted Kilt theme isn't THAT offensive, but it's still offensive to many.    I say no. 

  14. Investment

    You can stand in Fountain Square and see at least four large real estate vacancies: the rotunda, the old borders, the tilted kilt site and the old pier one. That is in addition to many single storefront openings. Investment dollars are hard to come by. Let the restaurant come. It'll fill an empty storefront and bring money and jobs to downtown. And if Evanston really is too family oriented, it'll close soon enough, but it will leave a rehabbed space behind, lowering the cost of entry for some more palatable establishment. As it is, I think the city needs growth and traffic more than empty storefronts and a sense of moral superiority. This being Evanston, though, I expect we'll cut off our nose to spite our face and kill the project.

  15. Let’s MAKE Evanston family oriented

    Some of you have commented that since Evanston isn't as family oriented as you'd like, we might as well have a restaurant like this. WHAT? That's the most irresponsible argument I've heard so far. Does Evanston have crime? Of course it does. It's not a small town. But we do have a responsibility as citizens to TRY to make our city the best it can be. And although empty store fronts don't help us, neither does letting in a smutty bar that will not serve us as a city well. The argument should be focused on the long lasting effects of a place like this (once they open their doors, there's no going back) and I personally don't want my daughter growing up thinking it is ok to go to work dressed like a hooker, nor do I want a bar with tacky signs and loud music blotting up our beautiful downtown. We should be focusing on business development – a positive approach. Maybe the city should start taxing NU!


  16. Stop making excuses for this. It’s a bad idea, period.

    I can pretty much tell you, if this place is allowed in they will have public relations problems galore and will probably not ever be rid of the controversy.  This is Evanston.  Those of you who think we are just any old town don't know our history and don't understand the values that many of us hold dear, and have for decades.

    This is not about wanting to stifle sexuality – get over yourselves.  

    This is the wrong location for the wrong business.  The fact that the Keg keeps being held up as the reason we should tolerate this idea is ludicrous.  What is this, Potterville?

    There are other alternatives, and if this particular restaurant does come to Evanston, none of us will ever forget we have Mr. Kavrakis, and those who allowed him to go forward, to thank for it.

  17. Fountain Square is a memorial to war dead

    Am I the only person who thinks this kind of restaurant is inappropriate next to a memorial for the scores of Evanstonians killed in war?

  18. This is not about family values…

    This is not about "family values", whatever that means. Values differ from family to family, so there are no universal "family values". The real issue here is that the Tilted Kilt actively communicates and embodies disrespect for women and objectification of women. We need more restaurants and stores. We don't need discriminatory ideologies disguised as entertainment.

    1. Family Values?

      Supposedly NU students come from 'upstanding' families that support 'family values.'

      Yet these children then take courses like the one where they applied 'sex toys.'  Then some parents say they support their children taking some 'fun' courses.   Even beyond the sex toy case, some of the types of courses, 'sex week' vrs. sex education, co-ed dorm rooms, etc. many other things don't represent what most people [esp. in the 'heartland'] would consider 'family values.'   Probably many liberal adults ['open minded'], like in Evanston, will consider the people who hold 'family values' backward. 

      Thus it make you wonder what 'family values' those protesting the Tilted Kilt are talking about.

    2. Offensive on multiple levels

      Agree with another poster – nothing to do with "family values" or anything else subjective.

      It is lightweight sexual entertainment masquerading as an eatery.  It objectifies women and it discriminates in its hiring policy – against most women (and all men!).

      Yes – it would deliver tax revenue to the City, but I would rather pay a bit more in my property tax than have this type of establishment (and the immature child-men it would appeal to) in Evanston.

      Final objection – it is a horrible facsimile of a Celtic pub.  It should be kept out of Evanston purely on the basis of aesthetics and authenticity.

      We have a choice as citizens of Evanston – and we should say, no thanks.

  19. Good old Evanston. Perhaps

    Good old Evanston. Perhaps the upright citizens brigade should travel more. I just got back from a long trip through the Pacific NW and Mountain West. The most stunning thing was what I did not see: for-lease and for-sale signs. Economic troubles, to the extent they still exist in the aggregate, are barely visible in many regions. Returning to Evanton is a stark feeling, trust me.

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