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Ike Robertson opened Ridgeville Tavern just a month ago, but he’s been running a bar and restaurant on that same site at Sherman Avenue and Grove Street for years.
Robertson was general manager for Bar Louie, which was in the same space previously, and when it had to close due to the pandemic, he saw an opportunity.
“I had always wanted to own my own bar and I immediately contacted the landlord to see if I could lease the space,” Robertson said. “After a lot of negotiating, I was able to secure the lease and start the process of turning what was Bar Louie into Ridgeville Tavern.”
Ridgeville Tavern made improvements to the space at 1520 Sherman Ave., such as including a large glass garage door that opens north on Grove Street as well new booths, lighting, wallpaper, photographs and a touch of feel-good vintage Evanston.
The inspiration for the name “Ridgeville” comes from the geographic history of the community, he said. Evanston was once known as the civil township of Ridgeville. Memorializing the history of the tavern is important to Robertson as well as tying in the local history to remind Evanstonians of the City’s past.
Keeping things local is key for Robertson, which is why Ridgeville Tavern carries offerings from all three Evanston breweries – Temperance, Sketchbook and Smylie Brothers – and spirits from FEW.
“I have always said we are a bar first and a restaurant second,” Robertson said. “That is not to say we don’t have great food, but we like to be known as the local corner bar. We offer a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere where folks can hang out for several hours.”
Bar Louie chef returns
Chef Eric Frost and Robertson designed the menu to be approachable and affordable. Frost led the kitchen when it was Bar Louie and has aided in the transition process.
Some menu favorites include Frost’s risotto fritters, broccoli and kale salad, the tavern ham and egg sandwich and for dessert, a house-made carrot cake.
“We are very excited to be open and part of the Evanston business community,” Robertson said. “We have already seen a lot of support from locals and former regulars of Bar Louie. Much of the staff worked with me here before so it has been a really nice transition seeing so many familiar faces on both sides of the bar.”
Ridgeville Tavern is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4 p.m. to midnight; Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; and Sundays from 4 to 10 p.m.