The Chicago Tribune reports this morning that the Tilted Kilt restaurant chain is growing fast in the Chicago area, despite the denial of a liquor license by Evanston’s mayor this week.

The paper quotes the chain’s founder as saying Evanston marks the first time the chain has been rejected in a community and says it will soon have 10 Chicago area locations.

Sales have been flat for Hooters, the original model for the “brestaurant” concept, but analysts say that overall it’s a very fast growing segment of the restaurant industry, generating $1.4 billion in sales, with several new players snapping up locations from down-sizing casual dining chains.

Original story

Join the Conversation


  1. Figures

    Well, it figures, trends going one way and Evanston going the other way. 

    More importantly, I wonder if the City Council and Tisdahl every really engaged Mavrakis and the Kilt Corporation to offer an alternative solution, like a different location (owned by Mavrakis)?  Or a different location entirely?  A way to satisfy both entities, Kilt in a good market and Evanston realizing the economic impact in a different location?

    Or was it just a "show" hearing?  Minds made up prior to the hearing?  If not morality, then the Green initiative probably would have got them…?  Did ideology taint the objective review of this business and proposal?

    Where any efforts made to compromise on both sides?  To work thru it? 

    We may never know.  Just asking 😉

  2. Mayor Turns Down City’s Take of $2.5M in Annual Revenue

    It's extremely disappointing to me that by denying a liquor license to the Tilted Kilt, Mayor Tisdahl has turned down an opportunity to gain the City's share of tax revenue associated with a restaurant chain whose individual restaurants average $2.5M in annual revenue.  With the state of the economy, the budget problems we are experiencing, and the escalating property taxes we are forced to pay, I see no reason why we are turning away new downtown business proposals of this nature.

    And, I was also really delighted (not) to see comments from an NU professor in another press article on this topic saying "it's an indication that the old, frumpy prohibitionist Evanston continues to evolve".  How proud we should all be to be associated with that type of community!

    Personally, when I elected a Mayor for the City, I was not looking for a den mother who was going to tell me where I could and could not go for a meal based on the dress code of the employees.  Or someone who passed on her own personal biases and morals in making decisions for the City vs. making sound economic and legal decisions based on facts.  Unfortunately, this is what we have gotten with this latest decision even though 3 of 4 of the liquor license commission members were in favor of granting the license (the 4th not seeing a reason to deny, but was conflicted perhaps because he's the son-in-law of the Mayor).

    For those of you who organized to oppose this new establishment for the City, I'd like to see you put as much effort into doing something to bring some needed revenue to Evanston and help fill some of the empty storefronts in the downtown.  At least that would be productive and something maybe the community could be proud of.


  3. Thanks Mayor

    Thank You Mayor Tisdahl:

    Did I want to elect you as Den Mother?  No.  As someone who can listen to the pathetic and weak defenses for this proposal….and know it has nothing to do with 1) what girls wear on the beach, 2) what professional cheerleaders wear, 3) weather or not there is a market for a "brestaurant" (no doubt there is), 4) whether enough is being done about gangs, violence, etc,  etc, etc. Yes!  Someone who realizes what a sorry measuring stick defenders of this proposal make it of Evanston's "educated" or "liberal" or "progressive" standing.  Yes!  And, most of all, someone with a vision for this community that sees past immediate economic and political pressures and is willing to take the heat by saying no…who, just maybe, has some sense that TK's mini-skirt and push-up bra outfit is not how anyone should want to see any young woman they care about present herself to the world, or "sell" herself, for any job, however tempting great tips or whatever other incentives may be…and how UN-beautiful it ultimately is? Yes, Yes, and Yes! 

    PS – Kudos to those willing to be labeled "the burqa brigade" and such by illustrious community commentators and others, and thanks for standing up for your principles and something better and more beautiful for this community!


  4. I hope the Tilted Kilt goes

    I hope the Tilted Kilt goes to Skokie.  There are plenty of empty storefronts in Downtown Skokie.  I bet the Village of Skokie will look at this opportunity as a major business deal and forget about the political correctness.

  5. Muddled Math, Bad Manners, and Fake Facts

    To Pat C:  How did you go from $2.5 million "average" sales to $2.5 million here in Evanston?  Isn't that more than twice what Ted ever said his smaller Tilted Kilt could gross?  Just wondering….

    Whatever number Ted and TK projected for this (small by TK standards) Evanston location, can we all acknowledge that a projection is NOT a guarantee?  You speak as if this money was in Evanston's pocket, and the TK opponents picked it out.   A TK at this location would have been a gamble, a bet, not a guaranteed winner of a million dollar jackpot for Ted.

    As for this endless tsk, tsk'ing at TK opponents for daring to donate their time to this cause:  Stop pretending you can read our minds or our "to do" lists. You pick your causes, and let us pick ours.   

    One of the Liquor Board members had the nerve to chastise TK opponents for showing up at the TK public hearing instead of showing up for her preferred community projects.  Maybe I should give her a list of my favorite causes and shame her for not working on them? 

    While we're on the subject of nonsense:  How on earth do some TK proponents "know" that "no" TK opponent has ever been in a Tilted Kilt?  Where'd you get those 2,353 GPS monitors and how'd you get them attached to us?  This paper printed Ted's assertion of this pseudo-fact, without question or challenge.  That's not journalism, that's propaganda.

    Here's another example:  At the Liquor Board hearing, the TK corporate guys testified that there had never been one single criminal incident at any TK ever.  Did Evanston Now ever investigate this or interview a TK opponent for a rebuttal?  I found 9 serious criminal incidents at Tilted Kilts in a quick Google search.  A college journalism student documented 4 of them–at the Elgin Tilted Kilt–in a Daily NU article.  





  6. Open minded?

    Wow Kathleen, great post, you really did your homework. Like the other 100 or so opponents of the bar/restaurant, you very eloquently detail the reasons behind your opposition.

    The fact remains, whether this now "lost enterprise" would have put $1 or $1 million into City coffers and hether there had ever been an "incident" at a TK anywhere on the planet, those are more revenues than this property is generating now.  I remain personally offended that my fellow open minded, all accepting, caring and liberal neighbors think they have the right to judge that short skirts and bare female bellies are grounds to deny this business' right to exist. Who anointed you judges and jury of what defines appropriate attire?

    As I've read here on posts before, had this been a "green" restaurant, or a vegetarian venue or one run by group of people considered "liberally" acceptable, there would have none of the outcry we've seen over the possibility of a few short skirts and some bare tummies. If Evanston didn't like this venue, its townsfolk would have "voted" with their wallets and this restaurant/bar that is "so offensive" would have failed. If it would have succeeded, then that would tell you that Evanston had a demand for this business. And if you believe that the "whole" of Evanston should have made this decision, then this should have been put for a City wide referendum.

    1. Thank you

      Thank you for clearly articulating what so many of us in the silent majority believe. Unfortunately, we lost this one because none of us circulated a petition in favor of the TK. Why would we have to, after all? Why would we think that the government would allow morality to be at the center of a business decision?

      If the TK opponents would have spent their time working towards a solution rather than against it, we might actually get somewhere. The TK would open and we would vote with our wallets — simple as that. But maybe, just maybe, some of the TK patrons would have gone next door for an ice cream cone or down the street for a pair of shoes. Why is Evanston in a position to reject the revenue generating potential of a new business (whether it be $1 or $1 million) and the subsequent chain reaction of revenue generation? Last I checked, this city was in dire financial straits. Way to go, holier-than-thou Evanstonians.

      Pretty soon, downtown Evanston will resemble Dempster-Dodge Plaza. When is Tisdahl up for re-election?

  7. Sad day in Evanston

    I thought living in Evanston meant that you would be somewhat insured that the likes of a Jerry Falwell wouldn't be allowed to demand that everybody must live by his group's interpretation of what is appropriate.  That the "moral majority" logic when applied towards the perfectly legal activities of others would meet resistance here.  Instead it got embraced?    

    What the hell happened here? Evanston progressive?  B.S.  Far from it, very sad day.


    1. Hold on, let me get this

      Hold on, let me get this straight: with all the truly sad events going on in the world–even in our community– your definition of a "sad day in Evanston" concerns the lack of a "breastaurant"?! 

      And no one's demanding anyone do or not do anything.  Tilted Kilt simply was considered not a good match for downtown Evanston. But no need to be sad; no one is stopping you from visiting any of the nearby locations. Hardly a tragic situation in the scheme of things, right?

      I do agree with one of your points however: the definition of "progressive" is obviously relative.

      1. Let me help you

        Let me help you get it straight.  It's not about a "breastaurant". Personally couldn't care less about TK.   Its about how one group of people with nothing more than personal opinions on what is "appropriate" can demand and impose their viewpoints on others.  When someone wants to do something perfectly legal I find it more than "sad" that others may "demand" their standards and prohibit legal activity based on nothing more than personal opinion.

        And yes, anti TK folks were "demanding" that a perfectly legal proposal could not happen based on nothing more than their personal opinions of what is or is not appropriate here.

        With all the sad events in the world this one is more than sad. It's really not much different than people who would fight the building of a Mosque or something based on nothing more than personal opinions of what they believe is "appropriate" in "their" community.  I believe it's fundamentally much larger than TK.

        Major B.S. and yes, a very sad day in Evanston.

  8. One Quick Question

    I had one quick question in discussing this with a friend of mine recently.

    Since the nature of the argument against the Kilt (and subsequent ruling) had much to do with morality and scantily clad waitresses… under the proposal from the TK, did they propose an outdoor seating area?

    My point is, would a consumer (or family) have to enter the TK premises to actually be exposed to the waitresses?  OR, would said residents be exposed to the TK waitresses from the street if an outdoor patio and seating section were part of the establishment?

    Makes a big difference… if you actually have to enter the restaurant/bar, then that is your choice.  If you are able to see the waitresses simply from the sidewalk (as they are serving outdoors), that is a completely different scenario.

    I doubt an outdoor seating area was part of the proposal simply because the sidewalk specs would not allow the capacity and because of the city's tight outdoor seating policies.

    Food for thought. 

  9. Allowed by ordinance

    The restaurant should have been allowed.  Morality, whatever that means, should not enter into the picture.  If you don't like the premise, just don't go.

  10. choosing my priorities

    thank you poster above that pointed out the hypocrisy of people who favor TK telling opposers what social issues we SHOULD care about.  It is so ironic.  The argument is, "Let me decide if I want to patronize TK.  AND let me decide what you should do in politics and community participation."  

    I'll choose what I want to be involved with, thank you very much.  And I choose to oppose this gross establishment because that kind of sexualization of some women is bad for all women.  And frankly, men too.  But I am not going to explain all of that.  Suffice it to say, that's what I believe (and it is based on voluminous social science evidence) and I will direct my social activist energy based on it.  

    But thanks for all the wonderful suggestions of social movements I should be interested in.  

    1. Choose freely

      I don't think anyone is telling you what you can or cannot do, where you can direct your "social activist energy" or what you do in "politics and community participation."  Please, do feel free to choose what you want to be involved with,  just so long as your "activist energy" doesn't prohibit the perfectly legal activities of others based on whatever you may or may not believe or whatever your "voluminous social science evidence" may or may not suggest.

      Here's a social movement. The protection in America of freedom to do or dress or eat or whatever you want so long as it is legal activity.  That means things like upholding the right of the KuKluxKlan to assemble and speak even when the overwhelming majority of the community is repulsed by what they say.  It would be far more repulsive to prohibit their legal rights to stand on a public corner wearing the communities socially unapproved bed sheet over their head simply because we don't like it.  

      You want to start an education campaign as to why you feel society shouldn't present women is such a way, great,  sign me up.  Your "activist energy" to prohibit the legally defined activities of others because you simply don't approve of how the waitstaff dresses, that is a problem. 

      That proposed location next to the war memorial, couldn't have been a more fitting location for TK in this town.  The fact they were denied and the reason they were denied is the greater desecration.     


      1. just so long as

        right.  I get to choose "just so long as . . . ." 

        and then you go on to tell me what social movement I should be interested in.  

        That's my point.  

        I do spend my activist energy in a variety of organizations that promote feminist values.  And opposing TK was part of that for me.  Don't like my brand of feminism?  too bad.

        Also, your read of the first amendment jurisprudence is flawed.  But that is the dominant thinking among Americans.  

        1. Your brand!

          I don't mean to tell you what social movement to be interested in. You get to choose and I couldn't care less what you choose or your brand of feminism, that is until you insist and impose your brand's value upon others who don't share your sentiment.

          The only reason TK was denied a license was because some people didn't like their clothing choice.  Didn't work with their "brand of feminism" or whatever.  Not that their clothing choice was illegal, or their operation was illegal, or their marketing was illegal, or anything about them whatsoever was illegal.  Some people simply didn't like the look of their uniforms, nothing more.  

          So what else doesn't fit your personal brand?  How else should the rest of us live to abide by your personal values?  What else offends your sensibilities and must be denied?   That's my point.

          1. TK and City time/finances

            Naperville is right now struggling with imposing a dress code on businesses similar to the TK. Does Evanston want to learn from Naperville's example or chart its own course in untried and fairly expensive territory?


          2. Stand-alone Complex makes a difference.

            Interesting point–I had never heard about the Naperville issue/decision.  Indeed, I'd forgotten about Show-Me's in the pantheon of "breastaurants."  I'd be curious to see how the dress code restrictions were received by the company, and what, if any, impact it has had on their profitability.

            However, after scanning all locations for Show-Me's, you'll find that they are all isolated, stand-alone buildings surrounded by parking lots. 

            It makes a difference.  For all the calls by TK supporters that if you don't like it, don't give them your business–its not really that simple when you're talking about plunking one down in the middle of the town square where you can't just drive past and ignore.

          3. Naperville’s Show-Me Bar

            "Lovelace (neighbor of the Show-Me restaurant/bar) said he is upset the city was not more upfront about the possibility of longer hours and possible outdoor seating. He invoked a similar suburban controversy – a plan to put a Tilted Kilt in Evanston – and wonders why Naperville didn’t handle the issue in a similar manner.  How were they able to keep them out and Naperville said there is no legal grounds to do that?” he said."


            Interesting.  Naperville residents seem kind of envious that Evanston didn't just jump through hoops when the Kilt's corporate masters said to, while Naperville just kind of went along with things.  Now the bar is gaining later hours linto the night and asking for an outdoor patio.  Kind of like the camel's nose got into the tent and now the rest follows.  On the other hand, Naperville did manage to get Show-Me's to alter the waitstaff dress code to something a little tamer, something that the Kilt people reportedly refused to do.  I guess their fine food, awesome beer selection and multitude of sports screens aren't quite enough to generate a profit, in their estimation.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.