Evanston Scotches Tilted Kilt Plan Over ‘Community Standards’

EVANSTON (CBS) — The City of Evanston has decided to reject a plan for a racy Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery in the downtown Fountain Square area.

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl rejected the building owner’s application for a liquor license for the Tilted Kilt, saying the establishment does not comply with community standards.

The establishment would have moved into the Fountain Square Building at 1601 Sherman Ave., which anchors the busy intersection of Sherman and Orrington avenues and Davis Street.

Some residents in the northern suburb had waged a strenuous campaign against granting the liquor license, calling the establishment a Hooters clone whose scantily clad waitresses unfavorably portrayed women and sent the wrong message.

Tilted Kilt features waitresses clad in “mini-kilt” and plaid push-up bras. The men on the staff also wear kilts.

Tisdahl said Monday she considered community opinion on both sides of the issue, including the argument that the Tilted Kilt would add to the city’s tax base. She denied building owner Ted Mavrakis’s application, she wrote in her opinion, based on “public safety concerns expressed by residents and the fact the establishment failed to comply with recognized Evanston standards.”

At the end, “I felt the community standards were paramount in consideration of this,” she said.

She suggested an action by one of the Titled Kilt representatives at a charged liquor control board hearing April 26 factored in her decision. At the hearing, Mavrakis and a representative from Titled Kilt had maintained that residents opposition about dress were based on false perceptions of the restaurant as taken from pictures on the corporate website. They argued that the Titled Kilt operated as an upscale sports bar.

Tisdahl said the business card one of the Tilted Kilt representatives handed her showed a woman with no face to speak of and simply breasts and a bare midriff.” She said if the Titled Kilt website was inaccurate then the company “should change the website.”

Mavrakis, a longtime building owner and developer of Evanston properties, expressed disappointment at the mayor’s decision. He said the ground floor space has been vacant 15 months, and the few offers he received were far below market.

“If she (the mayor) couldn’t see that I would create 150 jobs in downtown Evanston, that I would spend millions of dollars to put up the place … she made a decision based on opinions, not facts. I don’t know if that’s leadership or what.”

But Cynthia Farenga, one of the residents who led opposition, said the group’s backing was significant, with some 2,200 signing a petition begun online.

“The mayor decided in favor of community standards,” said Farenga, an attorney, “and I’m delighted because it shows that organized people can advocate for their values and not be overridden by the values of corporate franchise America.”

“There’s got to be a community value judgment by somebody,” she said. “If we, the community, can’t make it, then defacto, the franchise makes it,” she said.

Mavrakis said he won’t appeal the mayor’s ruling.

Titled Kilt Pub & Eatery has been expanding and making a big push in the Chicago areas, establishing some 20 outlets, Mavrakis said. He said he has already been approached by the mayor of another north suburban community, asking him to bring the restaurant there.

Evanston Now says Mavrakis the community in question is Morton Grove.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • Kathleen

    Demeaning women to sell things has become common place in this country!
    However, It seems many women have less morals then they use to, & therefore have no problem with being demeaned…as long as the price is right!
    I find it to be pathetic, that you’d have to use 1/2 dressed women to sell your food & drink. If the food were any good, then your women could keep their clothes on, & the food would still sell. If these women keep themselves properly dressed, you would also be less likely to have problems with men getting the wrong idea about these scantly clad women who are employed there.
    They leave very little to the imagination, as they are all hangin’ out!

    • No Hooters wannabes in Evanston

      Well said, Kathleen, well said.

    • Lou

      Demeaning women sells. End of Story. We’re in a recession. Show some skin, make some money and shut the heck up.

      • Breast Lover

        I believe the issue here is freedom of expression vs objectification, degradation, and abuse of a beautiful thing: Female sexuality. Speaking as a man who loves the female form: there’s something to be said for keeping it sacred.

  • cherise

    u pompus prude u have no idea what the heck ur talking about…idiot

    • RsLeather Leather

      I find it to be an irony that you would use that kind of lack of grammar, spelling, and punctuation, while at the same time calling someone else an idiot.

      • Ortho Stice

        When all of your friends are online, you think that IS proper grammar.

      • StupidPeopleFTW

        “I find it to be an irony”

        Use proper English when attempting to insult someone else’s use of the language. You’ll look like less of an idiot.

  • RsLeather Leather

    I won’t comment on the position of the community. I do, however, have to say that I applaud the community leaders for listening to the people they represent. And I also have to say that said community is missing out on some excellent callimari.

    • Pelly

      You can get excellent calamari at other restaurants in downtown Evanston and still maintain dignity of the employees.

      Remember Hooter had a lawsuit to force them to use guys as wait staff. Would you go to TK if a guy was serving you?
      How about a 50 year old woman? How about an overweight person?

      Get the calimari somewhere else

  • john

    This is hardly news—my classmates from there assure me that Evanston has been this way for more than half a century.

    • Ortho Stice

      Try more than a CENTURY. It is the home to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. That is why there are no free-standing bars (only restaurants with bars) and only one liquor store.

      • Gee-reg

        So they do not want a tax paying business there but welcome free loading, section 8 loving ghetto trash. I guess they just want more reasons to blame themselves for when they get robbed and raped by dookie just like the white women in Oak Park are learning.

  • JP

    Degrading? No one holds a gun to these women’s heads and tells them to work there. They choose to, and if they felt embarrassed or degraded then they wouldn’t work there. Don’t go inside if you don’t like the restaurant. I’ll bet many of these people opposed let their kids go out dressed much worse than what these servers wear.

  • Ming

    Whose standards? How about if 2200 Muslims signed a petition saying no alcohol, no pork , and women must wear Burkas?! Or Vegins say no animal or animal products may be consumed?!

  • cherise

    once again it proves my point that you people are living in the 1950 you people have no clue these women are beautiful and if that can help get them a job well then kudos to them they are out there working not at home sitting on their ass collecting welfare…POMPUS ASS

    • Pelly

      An employer can’t discriminate. What would you say if a lot of over 50, overweight guys flooded the application process and had to be hired in proportionate number? Would you still go there? My money says you would not.

  • bob

    Evanston…..an intersting comminuty that wanst to keep moral standards. Lets see, they have a major gang problem, drug problem, the community is so badly segregated it’s scary and sad to see. If you are not white then you are looked down on by many in evanston…..Yeah they have moral standards alright????????

  • Gerald Spencer

    Surely, Evanston has a South Side, high crime, gangs, automatic weapons. The website photos are said to be in error and causing misconceptions. Well, certainly, this is Hooters showing more skin than Hooters. A sports bar? Well, certainly, and you know what that sport really is, according to cherise, it is sex. If this company wants a strip club, they should just make it a strip club. You cannot be more honest than a strip club calling itself a strip club. I think we all appreciate that kind of honesty.

  • Joe Patroni

    Community standards? Fits right in given that NU sex toy demonstration class. At least these women are wearing clothes. NU has a terrorist on its faculty (Bernadien Dohrn), a Holocaust Denier (Butz) and a liar (David Protess)/

    • Imperfect World

      You have to start somewhere. I suspect the mayor actually sided with the majority of Evanstonians

  • Sparky123

    City services continue to get cut do to lack of funds. A legitimate business that will add to the sales tax base is denied base on a few people loosely defined standards.

  • allofus

    I find it interesting that, so far, I have not heard a single argument by those who wanted the restaurant that did not center itself around the “right” of the women to bare their bodies and that Evanstonians are “prudes” who should just walk on by and look away if they don’t like it. The fact is that establishments such as these contribute to the degradation of women. There is a tremendous difference between a person wanting to feel the sun on their body and so they wear a swimsuit to the beach and an organization that sexualizes its product in order to sell more. The latter makes it okay to tag a woman with a price-tag, based solely on her appearance.

    It is this sort of systemic issue that makes our young girls think they SHOULD wear skimpy clothes to fit in or to be accepted by their peers.

    And if you LIKE this sort of thing, then how about YOU GO to a town where they have one and let those of us who are not interested enjoy restaurants where our daughters don’t wonder if that’s how they are supposed to present themselves.

    One more thing, I wonder how people would have reacted had this restaurant been one featuring male waiters in nothing but a Speed-o.

    • StupidPeopleFTW

      I got news for you. Your daughters watch television.

      Keep sticking that head in the sand and saying everything is fine.

      • Profit Motive Loses

        I am glad to see people standing up for their firmly held convictions, against the tide of the media and ‘standards’ of the broader community.
        Do you decide to do something just because there is no law against it, or because you feel/think/believe it is the right thing to do?

  • StupidPeopleFTW


  • GO Southside

    For a community that has a large level of Crime. You are fighting the wrong fight. How about fighting crime instead of turning away jobs for the community and college students. Think of tax revenue that your high and mighty community has turned away. Now settle your high level of crime..

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