The founder & CEO of the Tapville Social bar/restaurant chain tells Evanston Now that the Grove Street location was “an experimental venture,” which, “despite our best intentions, did not achieve the desired traction.”
So, as Evanston Now recently reported, the Evanston location closed about a week ago after 18 months in business.
Joseph Tota, who established the Naperville-based company, responded via email to Evanston Now’s questions about the Evanston site.
Tota said that “Tapville Flights & Bites” was different than the company’s usual larger-format restaurants, which normally “do not cater specifically to a college demographic.”
The Evanston eatery, like many of Tapville’s other locations, was run by a franchisee, in this case the same company which used to operate Bangers & Lace, in the same spot. Bangers & Lace closed in 2020.
Tapville’s 20-plus bar/restaurants around the nation usually have full-service dining along with 48 “self-pour” taps of beer and wine, or else just a “self-pour” bar.
Tota said the Evanston franchisee “sought to explore a different approach … aiming to determine its viability in the local market.”
Hence “Flights & Bites,” small sampler drinks, such as “spiked lemonade,” along with appetizer-sized food.
However, Tota explained that the “effort to resonate with the university audience” did not catch hold, in part because of the distance between the Grove Street location and the NU campus.
But the primary reason for the closing, Total said, was “the lack of downtown foot traffic, which impacted the overall customer base.”
Plus, downtown offices not filled with workers post-pandemic “hindered potential lunchtime business opportunities.”
“Projections,” Tota explained, “did not meet our expectations.”
Because the Evanston spot was a franchise, Tota said the franchisee made the final decision to close the Grove Street location.
Tota said the landlord is currently trying find a new tenant.
He also said that “Tapville boasts a succesful presence with over 20 franchises operating, but the Evavnston location faced specific challenges that made it difficult to thrive.”