Evanston City Council postpones licensing for World of Beer

Rebecca Cohen

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An Evanston City Council committee put plans on hold Monday for a World of Beer franchise to open downtown because the establishment would not sell food.

Evanston’s liquor laws require businesses that serve alcohol to provide food as well. World of Beer, which property owner Ted Mavrakis hopes to open at 1601 Sherman Ave., would encourage patrons to order delivery from nearby restaurants. However, the establishment would not prepare food of its own.

The Administration and Public Works Committee voted to revisit Mavrakis’ liquor license application March 19, after it researches whether World of Beer’s business model can mesh with the city’s codes.

Liquor Control Review Board member Dick Peach said at the city council meeting that World of Beer is not eligible for the type of license for which Mavrakis applied. Peach urged the committee to create a license category that would accommodate businesses serving alcohol alone.

“When Evanston first started allowing alcohol into town 40 years ago, they didn’t want a bar,” Peach told The Daily on Thursday. “They were scared of the word. I think we’re old enough now – we’ve been through enough as a community that we could do it.”

If Mavrakis were granted the license, which is intended for restaurants, it would put nearby establishments such as Bar Louie, 1520 Sherman Ave., and Tommy Nevin’s Pub, 1454 Sherman Ave., at an economic disadvantage, Peach said. These businesses are required to keep their kitchens running until they stop serving alcohol.

Ald. Jane Grover (7th), who sits on the council committee, told The Daily the city’s legal team will research whether creating a new type of liquor license is feasible. She agreed with Peach that World of Beer does not fit any of the liquor license types currently available in Evanston.

“It’s like trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole,” she said.

Both Grover and Ald. Don Wilson (4th), whose ward borders World of Beer’s proposed location, said they hope the business will be able to fill the currently vacant building and boost the area’s economy.

“We’re not in a position to pick and choose our businesses,” said Wilson, who is not a member of the administration committee.

Wilson added World of Beer would likely increase foot traffic to his ward.

Mavrakis said because the liquor board had not objected to his license request at a Jan. 25 hearing, he was surprised by the outcome of Monday’s meeting. But he said the committee did not display the level of opposition that derailed his proposal to open a Tilted Kilt, a sports bar franchise, in the same location last year.

“With the World of Beer, we don’t have that,” he said. “Everybody likes it – they’re positive, except some semantics need to be corrected.”

Peach said he has “every anticipation” that World of Beer will come to Evanston eventually. If the city’s legal department works promptly, he said, Mavrakis’ timeline for opening should not be delayed by more than two weeks. Peach looks forward to that day.

“I’ll probably be one of the first people in the door,” Peach said.