Evanston officials eye Keg replacement

Patrick Svitek, Managing Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

City officials aren’t sweating the future of 810 Grove St., where The Keg of Evanston permanently closed March 31 after a yearlong tussle over its bad rap for underage drinking.

During a liquor board meeting Thursday, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said she recently met with a potential buyer who was familiar with the bar’s notoriety and wants to turn it around.

“When he was a teenager, he knew it was the place to go, so he understood that overcoming that reputation for that spot would be a challenge,” said Tisdahl, who also serves as liquor commissioner. “He seemed quite ready to meet that challenge, so I think we’ll have that spot filled.”

The City Council is expected to toss out The Keg’s liquor license by the end of the month, possibly paving the way for a new watering hole in downtown Evanston.

“That’ll finally put the last nail in the coffin,” liquor board member Dick Peach told The Daily.

Peach, president of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce, downplayed the suggestion the city could have a tough time bringing new business to The Keg’s former location.

“They’ll be just fine,” Peach said. “A lot of our business owners remember when The Keg was a very nice restaurant.”

During the meeting, Tisdahl suggested the potential buyer she talked to is not the only person interested in the property, saying there’s probably “someone in line ahead of him. She said the man she recently met proposed a “Ward Eight kind of establishment,” referring to the wine bar on Howard Street that opened with the help of city funding in November.

Tisdahl told The Daily she’s not worried about the ex-Keg property’s reputation and hopes its next lessee will make clear to teenagers that anyone underage won’t be welcome at the bar.

Underage drinking plagued The Keg for years, and Tisdahl set off a yearlong legal battle when she pulled its liquor license in January 2012. Keg owner Tom Migon quickly appealed Tisdahl’s decision, but dropped his challenge and lost the lease last month.

“During the appeal, he actually did a wonderful job of carding, which I’m grateful for, but it also proves he could have done it all along,” Tisdahl told The Daily.

During the liquor board meeting, city officials couldn’t resist some light jabs at the embattled bar that caused more than a few headaches in recent years.

Tisdahl dryly introduced the agenda item as “our favorite topic” and was followed by city attorney Grant Farrar, who said he was “pleased to report The Keg is no longer with us.”