Evanston aldermen voted to take another look at plans for a World of Beer franchise downtown after owners of other bars complained that the new business wouldn’t meet standards set in the city’s liquor ordinance.

World of Beer franchisee Ted Mavrakis.

Evanston aldermen voted to take another look at plans for a World of Beer franchise downtown after owners of other bars complained that the new business wouldn’t meet standards set in the city’s liquor ordinance.

As part of the compromise that brought legal liquor sales to formerly dry Evanston four decades ago, establishments that serve liquor here are required to also offer food service.

But World of Beer doesn’t have a kitchen, and only offers patrons the opportunity to call out for food to be delivered from other restaurants.

Liquor Control Board member Dick Peach said he doesn’t personally object to having bars that don’t offer food service, but that owners of other restaurants are upset that they have to keep their kitchens open all the hours they serve liquor, but the new place wouldn’t have to do that.

Alderman Jane Grover said she agreed that World of Beer doesn’t meet the terms of the liquor ordinance. She said she’s not opposed to the business, but wants the liquor license to match the operation.

Ted Mavrakis, who’s proposing to operate the World of Beer outlet at 1601 Sherman Ave. in the Fountain Square building he owns, said the order-out for food concept is a model used across the chain.

It gives people a choice of different foods, Mavrakis added, although he noted that since he owns the Giordano’s pizza franchise a block away, he’ll be encouraging patrons to order from there.

But he predicted that the new bar would generate additional business for other restaurants in the neighborhood.

The other restaurant owners may not be thrilled with that concept, though, because profit margins tend to be much greater on liquor than on food sales.

Aldermen voted to introduce the liquor license for the World of Beer, but then refer the matter back to the Administration and Public Works Committee for further discussion.

The aldermen did approve new liquor licenses for Creperie Saint Germain, at 1512 Sherman Ave., and Todoroki, at 524-26 Davis St.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The perpetually empty location

    Wow, whatever it takes to keep that place vacant, hunh! Why don't they just have someone in the back making cold sandwiches (at a bare minimum) with the additional ability to order out for other types of food. That's an easy solution.

    By the way, can we please have another coffee shop down the street? Maybe a Caribou or Seattle's Best? Starbucks is too small and I am not really fond of the other options.

  2. Mavrakis needs to be a bit more creative

    I've never been in Giordano's, so I can't really speak to Mavrakis's other venture, but why is he so intent on going the corporate chain route?  I have no problem with Tilted Kilt or this World of Beer.

    But you would think he would anticipate these issues with the city and install a small kitchen. Just having a limited menu of pizzas made on site would probably be enough to meet the law.

    The problem is likely the fact that these corporate chains have a bunch of rules that franchisees have to follow.  That's why they are so bland; but it also makes them cheaper to run.

    Given the Fountain Square location, however, it seems it would be a no-brainer for Mavrakis to find some Assistant Manager from a bar like the Edgewater Lounge, Praire Moon, Quenchers, etc.. and say, "listen, you develop the menu, etc…" and I'll back it with the capital for renovations.

    It would pass the Liquor Commission with no problem.

    For some reason, Mavrakis scours around for lame chain opportunities that are either a) politically unpalatable to local sensibilities [however stupid they are] or b) incompatible with local laws.

    If he had developed an indie concept at the outset, it could be up and running by now.

    I'm not saying the city is stupid for putting road blocks in his way, but he could play the system a little bit better.

  3. At least he’s spending his own money

    Why are they giving this guy, a real entreprenuer, such a hard time, when they just $100K of our money to subsidize a wine bar on Howard that won't be around this time next year?

  4. An alternative for 1601 Sherman

    It's obvious that Mr. Mavrakis is anxious to fill the empty building with a viable restaurant operation.  One great idea that would be an instant hit in Evanston would be the Yard House

    If you have ever been to the one in The Glen in Glenview than you will know it's a classy beer-centric restaurant that serves great food and is family oriented.  It would appeal to all demogrphics, especialy the university.

    Mr. Mavrakis — are you listening?

    Oh, and the one type of operation downtown Evanston does NOT need is another coffee operation.  There are so many alternatives — just walk a few blocks and you'll find one.  Try Peet's on Chicago Ave. — the best coffee in town, and one of only two locations in the Chicago area.

  5. World of Beer

    Interesting that this doesn't meet the guidelines but Bill's Blues operated for years with people bringing their own food or Bill's sometimes ordered a supply of sandwiches from Hecky's

  6. Yard House

    I agree – Yard House is a nice alternative if the city does not approve of World of Beer.  There aren't many locations in the Midwest, but I have been to a few in So Cal.  The food/atmosphere is somewhat upscale and would definitely appeal to the masses here.

    From a business owner's perspective, a franchise is preferable over an independent establishment because the menu/concept are proven, and there is inherently less risk.  After converting the existing space, a franchise can be up and running much faster than a standalone restaurant. 

    I'm sure that's what Mr. Mavrakis is going for, and I'm happy to see a real entrepeneur using his own resources to make it happen!

  7. Dear Ted:

    I will donate a microwave to your cause and we can take up a collection for a dorm room sized mini-freezer. Then, go to Sam's Club and buy a couple of boxes of different flavors of Hot Pockets that could be microwaved. Print up a menu and price the Hot Pockets at $25 each. You'll then have food and you'll never have to worry about replacing the inventory. Of course you'll need permission from the franchisor, but that shouldn't be too tough and the Hot Pocket plan could give them a model to get around this in the future. 

  8. Evanston’s finest

    Rediculous.  What does it take to let this guy open a business.  Is Evanston a communist nation?  What the hell is going on here.  Bunch of empty storefronts yet all the patrons and restuarant owners want to bash a guy for opening a successful franchise in a building he owns and is not getting paid rent on.  This guy is a glutton for punishment or maybe just a typical business owner in Evanston.  I'm surprised the mayor let this one slip through.  I'm sure she'd much rather this be a medicinal marijuana store.

  9. No money for bike racks, money for wine, but no permits for beer

    The Simpsons could not write an episode as pathetically funny as what is happening right now in this town..

    The alderman fight over losing $6,000 in parking fees by putting up a bike rack corral,

    But have no trouble spending $100,000 on a wine bar run by two people with no restaurant ownership experience

    Yet they can't give a liquor permit to a self-financed entrepreneur with a successful restaurant track record.

    Mavricks should get a microwave, and have some Giordano's frozen pizzas on site. 

    When is the next city council election?

  10. Beer bar

    Real reasons he doesn't want to build a small kitchen.  One, commercial kitchens are very expensive, fire and venting systems, major plumbing modifications, special wall, ceiling and floor finishes.  These can virtually double the cost of a simple bar, and size is relatively irrelevant.  In fact, smaller makes less sense because infrastructure is infrastructure.

    The other main reason is operating cost.  Labor is the industry killer and kitchen labor is where all that cost resides.  Waiters and bartenders work for tips and an hourly wage of roughly $5.00 per hour.

    I don't object to this plan, but I totally understand why other bar owners who were forced to build out quarter million dollar kitchens, pay rent on that added space and keep them staffed with costly labor might find this a bit unfair.  And the idea of outside delivery to satisfy existing ordinance is an end around and nothing less. 

    Evanston liquor laws, taxes and annual licence cost are ridiculous.  Everything about it needs review.

  11. Can we come at this the other way ’round?

         If the problem is that granting a liquor license w/o requiring food sales is different than what's required of other Evanston liquor vendors, then why not eliminate the food restriction for all of them? I don't envision Evanston getting overrun with bars. Bars could be restricted to certain streets, and maybe there could be a fixed number of non-food liquor licenses to go around, or a fixed number of bars allowed per square mile or something like that, so things don't get out of hand. And while I'm not fond of making Evanston the home of chain establishments, we do need commerce. 

         Evanston aldermen may have their hearts in the right place in terms of wanting to keep Evanston family friendly. But they do not seem to be wise or creative business people. Maybe they need some help with the development agenda. I'm not impugning their motives, and they may each have their strengths, but they are not great experts in business or urban development. More reactive than proactive, and not a lot of creative problem solving or comprehensive vision for how to improve business districts, both downtown and around town. 

  12. Or how about…

    How about if we just remove the requirement entirely? Why not allow bars to exist in Evanston without kitchens? Seems a bit silly (and a bit medieval) to me.

  13. Does this city want to go into bankruptcy?

    What does it take to recall the elected officials in Evanston? They give money to a wine bar – which is clearly in the wrong area and supports Chicago, and fight another businsess that wants to move into Evanston with a proven track record of success? Have any of you walked through the ghost town that is down town? Wake up!

  14. Let’s think Before ripping on Mavrakis

    After reading some of these comments, I was appalled. There are several empty spaces for which no one is doing anything; Orrington is a prime example.

    Look across the street from the CTA train station at Sherman Plaza; every single spot is empty. We have had and will have several businesses demanding tax benefits from the city. Northwestern has a sweetheart deal and will never pay what they should regarding property taxes.

    So, that leaves people with enough cash to bet on Evanston. If any of you do not like World of Beer or Mavrakis' ventures, then please go out, find a space, get some cash, and come up with your own concept.

    Let's see how you enjoy being on the receiving end of a limitless well of hater-ade. If you can't, then please send a letter to Mavrakis with recommendations for new ideas. Also, don't drink or (eat, if approved) there.

    But please, quit being message board trolls. I am getting tired of reading snarky and pointless discussions from allegedly mature, well-to-do, highly educated, adults. Don't we teach our children to behave better than this? If so, why have we gone to this level?

    My expectation is that  I would read well thought-out and sensible comments. Can we all make an effort to manage to this goal?

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