Whole Foods hopes to create a “sip and shop” experience in its new third store in Evanston that would let patrons cruise the aisles while drinking beer and wine.

The idea, discussed at a recent Liquor Control Board meeting, got a chilly reception from the city’s liquor commissioner, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, and Whole Foods officials say they plan to hold off seeking approval for the plan until after they’ve had meetings this fall with community residents about the new store.

Noelle Wagner, store design and operations coordinator for the chain, said “sip and shop” is a concept already in use at the Whole Foods in the Lincoln Park and Sauganash neighborhoods of Chicago as well as at some other locations across the country.

She said there have not been any problems with over-consumption or under age-drinking at locations where the program is in effect.

The new Evanston store is scheduled to open in August 2015 in the former Dominick’s market site on Green Bay Road.

The store plans also call for having a wine bar that would serve food and have a grill. Wagner said the plans could be modified to limit alcohol consumption to the bar area if the city preferred that, which is what’s been done at a Whole Foods in Park Ridge.

Liquor Board member Dick Peach said he had no objections to the “sip and shop” concept, and board member Dave Skrosdzki said he thought it would work well in the Green Bay Road location.

But Mayor Tisdahl said she believed alcohol service should be limited to certain areas and that “sip and shop” would not be in line “with the values of Evanston residents.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Booze and values of Evanston!

    I visit the Saguanush Whole Foods regularly.  There are not people drinking shots of Jagermeister in the aisles.  The store has an "island" with a grill and a couple of taps.  It is surrounded by barstool seating.  You can get a nice sandwich and a beer or glass of wine.  If you were just going there to shop you wouldn't even know they had a liquor license for on-premises consumption.

    When you see opposition to these benign ideas you get the sense that the elected officials and staff leadership in this town never leave or explore the borders beyond Evanston.

    Of course there is also the hypocracy of talking about "values of Evanston" and then loaning city money to bars like Ward 8 and Chicken and Waffles.

    1. Over Reaction

      Seems that a City that finances Bars and all but gives away buildings that border on high crime area isn't quite sure of its Values.

  2. Whole foods

    The Sip and Shop idea is undesireable.  It would negatively affected children, families, other adults.

    A Bar Restaurant area makes more appropriate sense

  3. Already have Sip & Sell

    Evanston already has TWO Wine stores that are allowed to Sell By The Glass.  Isn't this the same as Sip & Sell since you are sipping before you decide to purchase a  bottle. Is this in line with "the values of Evanston residents"?

  4. Am I drunk?

    Because I thought I just read that the mayor said sip and shop would not be in line "with the values of Evanston residents."

    Which residents is she thinking of, I wonder, because it's certainly not me. And it can't be the city officials who okayed loaning hundreds of thousands of dollars so two new bars could open. 

    Someone call my high school English teacher, I think I've finally found the example of irony I needed for my midterm.

    1. Does Chick-fil-A have Evanston values?

      It's sort of like when Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said no Chick-fil-A would open in Chicago because the owner gave money to a pro-traditional marriage group. He said Chick-fil-A didn't share Chicago values (a compliment to Chick-fil-A).

      Wouldn't it be a hoot if Chick-fil-A were to open a restaurant in good ole progressive Evanston? It would be entertainment. What would the mayor say them? "I don't like the uniforms. I got to many emails." I don't like chicken or hot dogs just burgers."

    2. Wine, Brie and Caviar Crowd

      If D&D would serve wine, brie and caviar, they would bring in the rich upper, upper class who are probably writing the Mayor.  After all they are the NIMBY crowd that seems to make all the decisions—even when the proposed project is miles from them.
      They want to exclude the hoi polloi—student [except for THEIR kids who are just going through a 'phase'], middle class and esp. the working class.  Give them brie and caviar and a string quartet [maybe a play from those at the Noyes Center] and they will flock there.

  5. I personally don’t care if

    I personally don't care if they have sip and shop.  I find it more outrageous that it won't open until Aug 2015.  What is taking so long?  Is it that difficult to convert a closed grocery store into a…  grocery store?!

  6. Incredible

    First, I really cannot believe the Mayor is balking at this citing "Evanston values."

    Ok, fine, open a medical marijuana shop.  Cannot wait to see what kind of element this brings.

    Ok, fine, lessen the penalties for possession of marijuana.

    Great, open a wine bar (pet Alderman project) on Howard… got busted for under age drinking.

    And give DMK a liquor license to sell with meals, but deny D&D.

    Punish developers with the new Fair Affordable Housing rules monetarily by not meeting raised quotas to offer space for disadvantaged residents.

    Second, what is going on here?  Selecting winners and losers at the Mayor's whim? 

    Third, this Whole Foods frankly is so close to Wilmette that I would guess the majority of shoppers would be from Wilmette, Winnetka, up the line… communities I consider light year's ahead of Evanston. 

    Fourth, for a city that showcases itself as so Liberal "progressive", I would think Sip & Shop would be allowed, or better yet welcomed.  Isn't this why people flock to Evanston (according to a recent EN article)?  I would venture to say a far more conservative community might move to prevent it.

    What it boils down to is this, and we have seen this time and time again… why does the Mayor and the City Council make it so DIFFICULT to do business in Evanston.  You would think their focus would be on supporting a business like Whole Foods (our third).

    You would also think the city would focus on more tangible issues – crime, unemployment, shuttered storefronts, increasing the tax base, rising taxes, the pension mess and the general fiscal well being of this "progressive" town.

    The day will come when residents will begin leaving Evanston, and our great leaders will wonder… why?  The writing is on the wall, clearly on the wall folks.

  7. Is this going to be a grocery store?

    My concern is that Whole Foods is planning a store like their Chicago store on Kingsbury–filled with mini restaurants (and 3 wine bars), prepared foods, fancy toiletries, etc.  On my first visit to that one, it wasn't clear to me that they actually sold basic stuff like flour.  The Green Bay former Dominicks store is large, but it isn't endless.  I wonder if Whole Foods will do their neighborhood "survey" and decide that what the North Shore/north Evanston area store needs is just booze and prepared foods. Personally, I would find that kind of embarrasing.  I hope we get a grocery store back.


    1. Check out some Mariano’s

      Some of the Mariano's have mini-restaurants and piano playing. It's the new wave in grocery shopping. Have you been to Eatily in Chicago yet?

    2. You can get flour at the Kingsbury Whole Foods

      Have you ever been to the Kingsbury store?  You can get virtually everything you can at any of Whole Foods' other outlets–including flour!

      Whole Foods is a smart and profitable company.  They will do the research and make the decisions they feel will make the store viable. 

      If you don't like their flour, you can shop elsewhere.  Whole Foods will survive.

      1. Mayor Tisdale’s Views Seem Inconsistent

        There can be a reasonable debate on the "shop and sip" idea, but "in line with Evanston's values" opposition is inconsistent with some recent Council decisions. As others have noted, the Council loaned money to private business peole to open bars. As far as we know, While Foods isn't interested in a loan.  The City also permits wine sales at the Fountain Square Art festival, where "sipping and shopping" is apparenty in line with our values. Pick a side, Mayor.

        I shop at the Lincoln Park Whole Foods upon occasion, and observe many customers, some with children, sipping and shopping. Doesn't seem to be a problem.

        1. alcohol consumption not within a building

          EvanstoNow police report sometimes lists "…alcohol ordinance violation." 

          The descriptions are limited but sometimes these seem to be for people on a sidewalk or on the street by their house.  Maybe something more was going on but I find it odd the law [see below] prohibits so much yet restaurants can have liquor on sidewalks  [even downtown], as mentioned the Forntain Square Art festival, many lawn parties have [esp. July 4], etc..  I suspect many people have no idea what the law [or enforcement] is.

          The Law and the practice seem to be very different.  Sometimes I have to wonder if it is being enforced in poorer areas where people don't have big lawns in the back of their house but are 'sitting on the stoop' drinking with friends.  But then as we see with the DD Dog permit,  the city is anything but consistent.



          The Law

          Consumption of Alcohol (Open Container) –  City of Evanston Ordinance 9-5-10

          No person within the City of Evanston shall consume or have on his/her person or in or about personal property open containers of alcoholic beverages in public buildings, parks, beaches, highways, streets, alleys, sidewalks, parkways, and parking lots. Any person found violating any of the provisions of this Section shall be fined not less than five hundred dollars ($500.00), nor more than one thousand dollars ($1000.00) for each offense

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