Despite a packed agenda and a heated discussion of Northwestern University’s Ryan Field renovation, there was some good news for downtown Evanston at a virtual First Ward meeting Thursday, Feb, 16: two more dining options are set to arrive in the area.

Farmhouse Evanston opened a new outdoor patio in June 2022 and announced it would be rebranding in November.

Soli Grill and Thomas & Dutch have plans to open March 1, according to Annie Coakley, executive director of the downtown Evanston district.

A vegan restaurant, Soli Grill, is coming to Bat 17 at 1709 Benson Ave, she said. (On Facebook, Bat 17 put it this way: “The beloved vegan menu items from our former Bat 17 Lombard location are making their way to Evanston!”) Meanwhile, Thomas & Dutch, a farm-to-table restaurant focused on cocktails, follows a rebrand of the Farmhouse, located at 703 Church St.

Emlyn Thomas, general manager of the newly opened Mexican restaurant Fonda, came to the meeting to thank the community for its support.

Ryan Field discussion

First Ward Council Member Clare Kelly. Credit: Richard Cahan

But probably the most time was spent Wednesday discussing the proposed Ryan Field renovation, with community members mostly voicing concerns about noise, alcohol sales and economic impact.

A public town hall on the stadium is scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m on Sunday, Feb. 19 at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.

Residents also asked about the proposed mixed-use housing development at 1621 Chicago Ave., which was the subject of a tense meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 15.

The project drew wide opposition at the joint First and Fourth Ward meeting, with more of the same Wednesday night. “They are ignorant of our choices and our desires and our needs,” Evanston resident Fred Tanenbaum said Thursday night of the development.

For those with pets, there was more good news, with the Evanston dog beach set to reopen March 1, First Ward Council Member Clare Kelly said.

Also, people were reminded to fill out the city’s survey as it is gathering community input on lakefront improvements through Feb. 22, with a public meeting to discuss the results set from 7 to 9 p.m on Wednesday, March 8, at the Robert Crown Community Center.

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Manan Bhavnani

Prior to joining the RoundTable, Manan Bhavnani covered business and technology for the International Business Times, with a focus on mergers, earnings and governance. He is a double Medill graduate, with...

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