Smylie Brothers approved to expand into former recycling center


(Allie Goulding/The Daily Northwestern) Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. currently has a location at 1615 Oak Ave. The company was approved to lease a property from the city in south Evanston.

Kristine Liao, Reporter

Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. is set to open a second location in south Evanston after being approved to lease the city’s former recycling center near James Park.

The city approved a 10-year lease followed with an option to purchase for the second Smylie Brothers location despite concerns from some residents. The new location at 2222 Oakton St. will focus more on production and shipment of beer to other restaurants than the original location, at 1615 Oak Ave., owner Mike Smylie said.

The 13,000-square-foot building will contain production facilities and offices, Smylie said. He said he was excited about the opportunity to sell beer in other restaurants, bars and retail locations.

“Now, even if you’re not at Smylie Bros, you can still enjoy a pint of Smylie Bros,” he said.

Though the city approved the lease, residents have expressed concern about the location’s proximity to Dawes Elementary School and James Park, sparking controversy over whether Smylie Brothers was an appropriate choice for the replacement.

Other than Smylie Brothers, the final round of replacement proposals had included an indoor climbing arena and an established basketball program in town.

Ald. Brian Miller (9th) said he felt the multiple sports offers should have been prioritized over the restaurant.

“It’s funny to me that, as a city, we are selling our assets as opposed to figuring out what’s the best way to handle them,” Miller said. “Our priorities are completely out of whack.”

Miller was the only alderman to vote against approving the deal with Smylie Brothers. He also said that the city should focus on improving parks.

“The council just wanted to dispose of the property as opposed to identify the best possible use of the facility,” Miller said. “They just didn’t want to deal with it.”

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said he previously supported the development of an indoor sports facility in the old recycling center, but once plans fell through in 2012, he supported Smylie Brothers.

“People go watch games in the winter and spring huddled under blankets,” Wilson said. “So I know a lot of them would enjoy having Smylie Brothers there to get something to eat between games if they had that option.”

Wilson said the restaurant will generate revenue for the city through the rent, alcohol tax and a metered parking lot they plan to develop, while a sports facility would likely not generate as much in taxes. Wilson said the brewery will also help enhance the general business of the area by bringing more people to the restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores nearby.

Smylie said they still have to spend a few months doing mechanical, structural and environmental studies to make sure that space is safe for production and consumers before construction can begin. After that, it will take about nine months to build out the space, he said.

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Twitter: @kristine_liao