Evanston’s first self-serve taproom to open Wednesday


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

The Midnight Pig, 1557 Sherman Ave. Evanston’s first taproom will open Wednesday with a Prohibition-themed atmosphere.

Julia Esparza, Copy Chief

Shortly after Tommy Nevin’s Pub closed in November, Sonas Hospitality Co. announced its plans to open a self-service taproom in an event space inside of Pete Miller’s Steak and Seafood.

Though the taproom was quickly dubbed “new Nevin’s” by fans of the downtown Evanston pub, the company’s CEO Ed Carella said Midnight Pig — 1557 Sherman Ave. — is a completely different concept. The beer bar, which will feature pork dishes and beer-infused comfort food, is set to hold a soft opening Wednesday and will have its grand opening May 3.

“After closing Tommy Nevin’s, we wanted to bring something back to Evanston from our brands and we wanted to be a casual beer-focused concept,” Carella said.

Sona’s Hospitality Co. owns the Nevin’s chain, Pete Miller’s and the Midnight Pig taproom in Evanston, as well as their own brewery in Plainfield, Illinois.

Carella added that the name of the taproom is also the name of the beer brew, which the company creates itself at that brewery. It is a nod to how alcohol was transported during the Prohibition era, in so-called “pig jars,” he said.

He said the tapwall will feature about 30 different locally sourced beers, 12 of which are Midnight Pig brews, and that it is the first establishment of its kind in Evanston. He said patrons of the taproom will receive a card when they enter and be able to pour from 1 oz to 16 oz of beer to taste as many kinds as they would like. The card keeps track of how much beer customers sample and charges them appropriately at the end of their visit, Carella said.

While the taproom wants to invoke the same casual and welcoming atmosphere as Nevin’s, Carella said Midnight Pig is not going to be a new Nevin’s because the pub was unique.

Carella said the restaurant infuses the laid-back and taste-centric goals that the Prohibition era valued. He said the restaurant is for people who like “good beer” and “good food.” The taproom menu features several pork dishes — including pork nachos and pork poutine — as a nod to the restaurant’s name, along with comfort food like cheese curds and pretzels that patrons of Nevin’s used to enjoy, said Marcus Mooney, Midnight Pig’s corporate chef.

“We loved the environment that Nevin’s had and that’s where it started,” Mooney said. “The taproom’s speakeasy atmosphere will make it seem casual and allow the customer to really have an experience with the beer.”

One of Mooney’s favorite Midnight Pig brews, the lager called Snitches get Stitches, is also infused in the taproom’s hot fudge sauce, he said. He added that a lot of the menu items include beer as an ingredient.

The emphasis on beer as well as the casual menu will further separate the taproom from Pete Miller’s, Mooney said.

Evanston economic development manager Paul Zalmezak said the unique concept of a tapwall is a reflection of the rise of different and trendy food concepts in the city, and that he believes residents will be very receptive to the new establishment.

“Nevin’s had its day and it was a popular place, but there are constantly new trends,” Zalmezak said. “What (Midnight Pig) is trying to do is capture a vibe that millennials would want to partake in and I don’t think Nevin’s was that place anymore.”

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