Smylie Brothers, an eight-year-old brewpub in downtown Evanston, permanently shut down on New Year’s Eve, just four months after it closed its location in the Lakeview neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side.
Smylie Brothers announced the abrupt closure on its Instagram and Facebook accounts on New Year’s Eve.
“Thank you to all our friends, family, coworkers and guests, your support over the past 8 years is truly appreciated. Sadly, as a result of the pandemic we are no longer able to operate the business and are now closed,” the statement said.
The Evanston operation, which opened in 2014, served up craft beer, Texas BBQ and wood-fired pizza and had a large patio as well as event space.
“It’s just really sad that they’re gone. I think Smylie’s will really be missed in the Evanston community,” said Danielle Zimmerman, an Evanstonian who was a regular at the restaurant. Zimmerman said the news of the restaurant shutting down caught her off guard as there were no visible indications the business was struggling, “My first reaction was just shock,” she said. Zimmerman is also part of a local group of enthusiasts who share news and updates about local businesses in Evanston and the surrounding areas.
Owner Mike Smylie declined to comment.
Downtown Evanston has had serious issues recovering from the pandemic. Foot traffic in the area has shrunk in recent years from its pre-pandemic peak.
“The bottom-line is we need people, and we need people to be spending the money,” said Annie Coakley, executive director of Downtown Evanston. With rents and inflation up in recent months, businesses are feeling the crunch. “The cost of food has increased, so the margins are really tight,” she said.
One aspect of the pandemic has been the decimation of a consistent, everyday lunch-going customer base.
“Two days a week isn’t going to cut it. I think we have to think of our transformation period,” Coakley said.