Bar-brewery may be heading to Evanston’s Howard Street
A restaurant-bar, with a brewery may be heading for Howard Street. (Bob Seidenberg-Sun-Times Media)
Updated: April 1, 2013 7:11AM
EVANSTON — The city’s once downtrodden Howard Street suddenly looks like a happening street, with some seasoned restaurateurs stepping forward to open up a restaurant-bar and brewery in the area.
Jamie and Debbie Evans, formerly connected with successful Evanston restaurant enterprises, Tommy Nevin’s Pub and the Celtic Knot, are seeking to create an American style bar-restaurant that will also include a small brewery on premises, at 623-627 Howard St.
The restaurant, to be called Peckish (a British adjective to describe being “somewhat hungry”) is located just to the east of Ward Eight, a cocktail bar that opened recently and is winning notice from trend spotters.
At the City Council’s Administration & Public Works Committee Monday, aldermen signaled support for a staff recommendation that the city negotiate and execute a lease with an option to purchase agreement with the Evans.
Aldermen are expected to take final action on the proposal at their March meeting.
The project was set in motion in October 2011 when aldermen approved purchase of the Howard property for $475,000, using economic development funds.
The building was one of several properties purchased by the city in a move to attract private interest in revitalization of the street.
Under the proposed lease, the Evans would rent to own, with the ability to buy the property after four of the five years on the lease are up.
The city would tap tax increment finance money, issuing a $200,000 grant to the owners to build out what is now a “vanilla box,” officials said in a memo.
“While the city is being asked to assist in some of the build-out, Peckish One LLC will be responsible for all remaining improvements, including installation of a kitchen, installation of décor appropriate for a restaurant/brewery and other associated improvements for a restaurant,” city staff noted in a memo.
During citizen comment Monday, city budget critic Junad Rizki said the proposal, “looks like another poorly put together piece of work,” with taxpayer money on the line.
“Is the city providing for the $200,000 for the building upgrade to the tenants or is the city doing the upgrades to the so-called “Vanilla Box?” he asked.
“We are also borrowing from the Economic Development Fund to cover further TIF revenues, to cover future TIF revenues,” he noted. “More money that we do not have.”